Laura Kristine Tofukuji
November 20, 1949- July 12, 2020
“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever” – A.A. Milne
Laura, or “Lo,” as many loved ones called her, was born in Los Angeles, Calif. to Tetsuo and Dorothy Asato. Older sister to Becky Seo, wife to Dean and devoted mother to Scott, Lia, and Robyn. She was a loving Grandma to Tyler, Cody, Bryson, Dylan, and Emily.
Hurdled with one health obstacle after another through the years, Laura fought each battle with bravery and grace. She will be missed by her family and dear friends.
Laura often shared that she was “the happiest, luckiest girl in the world.” She grew up in a close-knit family and was blessed to grow up with extended family as well. She would laugh as she reminisced of late-night bowling and crawfishing with her aunties, uncles, and cousins. She spoke fondly of the loving friendships her family cultivated and still cherish from their neighborhood in Gardena.
Laura had many interests growing up, such as reading, flute, piano, and above all, art. Painting, drawing, and being creative were undoubtedly natural talents and a part of who she was to become. In high school, she won a contest in fashion illustration, which furthered her interest. Laura attended USC and upon graduation, married Dean. She then began a career in graphic design. She was quick to learn every aspect of the advertising field and established LT Graphics in 1976. She accumulated a large following of clients and had opportunities to expand, but chose to maintain a balanced life, which led her on a new path and her proudest creation, a family. Due to medical reasons, Dean and Laura decided to adopt. In 1980, Scotty entered their world, and she became a full-time mother. Four years later, in 1984, they received news of a precious baby girl, and Lia arrived. Then to their surprise, Laura discovered she was pregnant and in 1986, Robyn was born. Their family was complete.
Laura was a fantastic mom — involved, caring, and always wanting the best for her kids. She guided them, and often their friends too (whom she also considered to be her “kids”). Her message was to be kind, treat others fairly, and to do the right thing, even when no one is watching. She shared her creative talents with the community as well. As a member of the PTA she designed the Hickory Elementary School logo, which still proudly remains as a mural on campus. Laura also created Hickory’s yearbook for several years, was instrumental in launching the Adventures in Art Program, and contributed to the Hickory Hound Cookbook. When her kids started to participate in recreational sports, such as soccer, she naturally volunteered to design and complete the seasonal AYSO soccer books as well. She stayed involved in her community participating in Robyn’s Girl Scout Troop, as Lia’s Girl Scout Leader, and a dedicated volunteer for the Go For Broke National Education Center. Besides her creative talents, one of Laura’s proudest and most humble contributions towards others was guiding families through the process of adoption.
Travel was also an interest and priority for Laura. This started after a month-long family road trip she took when she was 11. She enjoyed fishing trips, the annual Tofukuji trips to Vegas, and later vacations with her family. She was always the “trip planner,” and often planned trips to coincide with the lessons her children were learning at the time, such as to Oregon when learning about the Oregon Trail. She planned every vacation to the “T,” whether it be to San Diego, or detailed itineraries to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Italy, and Greece (to name a few). She wanted to ensure that no excursion or meal would be missed. A few extra special trips that stand out are the amazing trip to Disney World with the entire Tofukuji Family and again with the Asato Family to celebrate her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Over the past several years, she was able to enjoy trips to see the fall foliage traveling through New England, a cruise through Germany, and a Scandinavian cruise, which fulfilled her dream to see the Northern Lights. She felt blessed to have discovered Pacific Beach, through the invitation of a childhood friend, and enjoyed several weekend trips there. She always felt at peace while watching the sunset.
Laura also had several personal hobbies that she enjoyed sharing with her friends and family. She had a love for Korean dramas and creating CDs of “Lo’s favorite hits!” She was always involved in a new craft, whether it be making leis, pearl necklaces, and designing personalized miniature rooms as gifts for her nieces. She was the first to volunteer in making wedding or party favors. Although her vision diminished, she always found a way to learn, create, and put that extra “Laura specialness” into all she did. As Grandma, she enjoyed trying new recipes with her grandkids, and encouraged them to express themselves through music and art.
Her dream was to have a family. To see the world. To live a full, creative life. And to make others feel special. She was a fighter; brave and steady. She was the most thoughtful gift giver, but perhaps the best gift she gave us all was herself. We are the lucky ones.
Laura is now at peace and has been welcomed in the embrace of many loved ones. May the kindness, strength, and generosity she conveyed on earth live on through each of us.
In Laura’s memory, donations are being made to the UCLA Transplant and Research Teams.