Mrs. Elsie Fujiko Adachi Ogata entered the Pure Land peacefully in her home in Berkeley on September 21, 2015. She was 103.
She was born on August 20, 1912 in Richmond, California, the first of five children to Isaburo and Wakako Adachi, founders of Adachi Florist and Nursery in what is now El Cerrito, California. She was sent as a child to Japan for primary school, living with her grandparents. Upon return to the United States as a teenager, she graduated Richmond Union High School and the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Nutrition in 1939. Inspired by her education, she returned to Japan to study Japanese food and its health benefits.
She met and married Toshio Kano of Amami Oshima, Japan. They had two children in Sendai, Japan and endured World War II and postwar in Japan, aided by Elsie’s work at the American Embassy. In 1949, they returned to the United States for Toshio to attend Berkeley and later Harvard Law School. After a tragic accident in 1956 that claimed the life of Toshio, she raised her two daughters alone, working in the family business. In 1969, she married Dye Ogata of Washington. From the 1950s on, she was active in civic affairs, including the Soroptimist Club, the Japanese American Citizens League of Contra Costa County, and the Japanese American Women Alumnae of UC Berkeley (who honored her as Outstanding Alumna in 2003). She continued to work at Adachi Florist and Nursery until the age of 100, when she decided to retire.
She was passionate about flowers, spending many years studying Sogetsu ikebana (earning her flower name Fusui), as well as western floral design. She was an ardent student of Japanese traditional doll-making (kimekomi ningyo), as well as fabric art, origami, calligraphy, ceramics, gardening and tennis. Her lifelong interest in food, nutrition and health inspired her family on a day-to-day basis, as well as on special occasions like Oshogatsu (Japanese New Year’s). Throughout her life, the Oakland Buddhist Church was a source of comfort and community.
She is survived by her daughters Betty Nobue Kano and Susan Tatsuko Kano; grandchildren Joshua Davidson, Naomi Davison (Fred Haubensak), Malcolm Donaldson and Nina Ichikawa (Kenshin Ichikawa); beloved sister Ruby Hiramoto, and legions of nieces, nephews, and friends. Services will be held at Sunset View Mortuary on Saturday, October 3 at 3:00 pm.