Linda Shizuko Matsuoka
September 26, 1920 – June 11, 2020
The Santa Maria Valley has lost a life-long resident: Linda Shizuko Matsuoka. Linda was born in Lompoc, California, and became a Santa Maria Valley resident before she was a year old. She graduated from Santa Maria High School in 1938 and from Pacific Sewing School in 1940.
Linda married Jack Mitsuki Matsuoka on Christmas Day in 1940. During World War II, Linda was one of the last persons of Japanese ancestry to be removed from Santa Maria Valley because she was overdue in her first pregnancy. Linda and their new son, Richard, joined Jack at Tulare Camp Assembly Center. They were moved to Gila River, Ariz., and finally to Tule Lake Relocation Center in Calif. Linda taught sewing classes in Tule Lake and enjoyed the fact that, as a teacher, she earned $16 per month while doctors earned $19 per month.
After WWII, the family was released and returned to Santa Maria. By 1953 Linda and Jack operated Jack’s Berry Farm, growing strawberries for 40 years. Linda did the bookkeeping and payroll, chose the produce house to which the strawberries would be sold, supervised the workers, and worked alongside her husband in the fields. Their strawberries were of the highest quality and could command premium prices.
After Jack was diagnosed with lung cancer, Linda retired to care for him. Following his passing, she pursued the singing of Japanese songs, taking weekly karaoke lessons in Los Angeles. A woman of boundless energy, Linda mowed her lawn until age 80 and cared for her garden until 95. Linda was well known for her strawberry jam, fresh strawberry pies, lemon meringue pies, teriyaki chicken, sushi, menudo, and tamales, all made in huge quantities at times. Linda grew flowers to decorate graves of family and friends every week until she was 95.
Linda was preceded in death by her husband, Jack Matsuoka; son, Richard Matsuoka; and brothers Takao Furukawa, Yoshio Furukawa, and Kingo Furukawa. She is survived by daughters Sharon (Robert) Van Tassel, Jayne Kawaoka, Ann Matsuoka; daughter-in-law Carol Matsuoka; 8 grandchildren and their spouses; 12 great-grandchildren; brothers Tetsuo (Betty) Furukawa, Kame (Flo) Furukawa; and a large extended family.
Linda continues to be an inspiration to her family and friends. Despite trials, she maintained a positive attitude, always expressing gratitude to all those who loved and supported her. In her final years, she appreciated the home care from her staff of caregivers and the services of Dr. Rashik Patel. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, greatgrandmother, daughter, sister, auntie, and friend.