Yukari Sugano (née Fujita), passed away at her home in Kent on May 2, 2016 at the age of 95. Yukari was the epitome of the strong, independent woman in an age when women were considered to be just the opposite. Yukari was born January 31, 1921 in Shanghai, China to Japanese parents. She graduated from Nara Women’s College, the highest learning institution to which women could aspire at the time and became a teacher.
On February 11, 1944, she married a young medical doctor serving in the Japanese Navy. Together they had a daughter, Yoko. By the end of the war, Yukari was a widow and single-mother at age 24, and the outlook was bleak in Japan. Fortunately, she was able to enter the United States on a student visa to study at UCLA.
She arrived on Easter Sunday 1950 in Los Angeles. She met Masaji Sugano, whom she married in 1951. They moved to Detroit where Masaji worked for General Motors Technical Center and they raised four children together, Thomas Tomio, Jane, John, and Robert.
Yukari worked making Japanese dolls and as a seamstress. She later taught Japanese doll-making and at age 60 began a new career teaching Japanese students in the United States. She continued teaching for another twenty years.
After her husband’s death in 2003, Yukari started making teddy bears, blankets, sweaters, hats, and aprons for charitable causes receiving awards recognizing her significant contributions. Literally thousands of beautifully hand-crafted sewn, knitted, and crocheted items brought joy to countless lives. She engaged in this wonderful work until the day she died. Yukari also enjoyed gardening and took great pride in her yard.
Despite her many accomplishments in life, Yukari always felt that raising her family was her greatest accomplishment and she was always grateful to American society for the wonderful life that she was able to live after 1950.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, May 15, 2016, at Panther Lake Community Church at 1 PM.