Santa Paula Times


January 25, 2006
Michiaki “Mich” Yamamoto Michiaki “Mich” Yamamoto passed away peacefully on January 10, 2006.He was born in Berkeley, California on September 30, 1914 to parents Kwanichi (father) and Ima (mother) Yamamoto. Mich had 11 brothers and sisters.In his early years, Mich was active in Berkeley’s Japanese community and could recall a multitude of wonderful experiences growing up in the San Francisco Bay area at the time. With such a large family, work was not a stranger to Mich and his family. Mich and his brothers helped their father, who was a gardener by trade, perform the gardening jobs they had arranged with the local community. Later, Mich worked at a number of jobs that included a local market, which would prove invaluable in his later years.Mich’s father, Kwanichi, was the first Japanese American to become a member of the Baha’i faith. Mich and several of his brothers followed the lead of their father, and for his remaining years Mich was a devout member of the Baha’i faith. Although Mich was not an overly religious man, the first personal possession he would pack for any trip was his Baha’i prayer book. As the years progressed, Mich would keep his list of medications in the one thing he knew he would have with him wherever he went, his prayer book.With the beginning of hostilities with Japan in 1942, Mich and his family, along with another 120,000 individuals of Japanese descent, were required to relocate from the West Coast as a result of Executive Order #9066. They were afforded the opportunity to move inland to an area east of Interstate 99 and continue to live and work. Their only option was to report to their designated relocation camp in the interior away from the West Coast.The family relocated to Parlier in the Central Coast valley of California, and life continued as normal as possible, given the climate at the time. They spent long hours harvesting the crops grown in the area and making a meager living. Eventually, they were forced into a relocation center at Gila River in the Arizona desert.Mich immediately became involved in the organization and maintenance of the camp. From meager beginnings, the interns transformed the desert into an active township, complete with housing, schools, churches, sports activities, and youth and elder groups.Mich was in charge of a group of workers who were responsible for distribution of the army surplus supplies made available to the internees. As a consequence of this position, Mich met a young woman, Helen Kimura, who made an immediate mutual impression. From their initial encounter, when Helen requested a mattress for her ailing mother, a love affair of 60 years blossomed. As the Kimuras were relocated from the Santa Paula area and the Yamamotos came from Parlier, the possibility of Helen and Mich ever meeting had been fairly remote. As Mich and Helen always commented, “At least something good came” of their internment.With the closure of the camps at the end of the war, Mich and Helen relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where their first son Paul was born. Shortly thereafter, Mich and Helen came to Santa Paula for a “short” stop before going back to the San Francisco Bay area to live. Needless to say, their short stop became a life long love affair with the town of Santa Paula.With his background as a grocer, Mich worked at the roadside stand on the outskirts of town that was originally established by his mother-in-law, Tama Kimura. After several years at that location, Mich and Helen took a leap of faith and pursued owning a grocery store in town called the Garden Market.Although the initial years were meager, Mich and Helen were able to make a foothold. Sons Dick and Dean were born. Through the ensuing years, the business prospered; and through sweat and tears and a lot of vegetable tie wraps and duct tape, the Garden Market became “Mich’s.” A multitude of Santa Paula’s youth passed through the portals of Mich’s and became parents and even grandparents under the watchful eyes of Mich and Helen.Son Paul married Claudia Knoenig, son Dick married Sue Cedarquist, and Mich finally had the daughters he had never had. Grandsons Matthew and Seth and granddaughter Kimi came along and instantly became favorites of Mich. Anyone encountering Mich would be regaled of the latest accomplishments of these pearls in his life.Eventually, time and the necessity of taking care of Helen’s ailing mother dictated turning over the business to a new generation of grocers. Mich, however, still kept his finger on the pulse of the businesses in Santa Paula. Helen sometimes bemoaned, jokingly, the fact that Mich was never around even though he had “retired.” Usually, Mich could be found running errands around town, especially helping former customers who needed help selecting produce at the local supermarkets, and basically being “Mich.”Mich’s second love has always been sports, which becomes all the more intense when Santa Paula schools are involved. Many can attest to the halftime sessions of football games where Mich and Bob Dyer would cut oranges for the players in the pre-Gatorade days. Through the years, Mich’s other main interest was the wellbeing of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mich would live and die on every pitch, and at times could be seen watching two televisions to make sure he did not miss a minute of his favorite events.Above all, however, Mich’s greatest pleasures in life were children, especially his grandchildren. With the arrival of Matt, there was not a more proud grandfather to be found. When Seth and Kimi came on the scene, Mich had a new mission in life. Many times, circumstances dictated that “Papa” help with the care of these new charges. At one point, Mich proclaimed proudly that he was the only one who could rock Seth and Kimi to sleep, and he would not let anyone even attempt to interfere. From this beginning, Papa became a constant in their young lives. Trips to dancing, Boy Scouts, band, judo, track, soccer, doctor’s appointments, haircuts and endless grandkid activities became the norm for Mich. At the same time, trips to visit Matt (and his parents) remained a high priority for Papa.Although he lived life with great gusto, time finally caught up with Mich. He left us to join his parents and siblings Hiroshi, Shinji, Mas, Goro, Barbara and Wattaru.He is survived locally by wife and life partner Helen Yamamoto; son Paul, his wife Claudia and grandson Matthew; son Dick, his wife Sue, grandson Seth and granddaughter Kimura (Kimi); and son Dean. Mich is also survived by his close in-law relatives: brothers-in-law, Albert Kimura, and Hank Nakagawa and nephew David; and sisters-in-law, Alice Morooka and nieces Marge and Rugh, and Irene Yoshiyamo, her husband Ets and niece Lori. Mich is also survived by Yo Yamamoto; Eiji and Kiyo Yamamoto, their children and grandchildren; Bill and Enid Yamamoto; Ted Ono, his children and grandchild; sisters, Tammy Malloy and her children and grandchild, and Chio Hironaka and husband Min and their daughters; sister-in-law Yuko Yamamoto, her children and grandchildren; Hideko Yamamoto, children and grandchildren; as well as Steve Yamamoto and son and Joann Yamamoto.Mich was laid to rest in a private family ceremony.The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Santa Paula Education Foundation c/o Santa Paula High School, 404 N. 6th St., Santa Paula, where a memorial scholarship fund will be started in Mich Yamamoto’s name.
Arrangements under the direction of Skillin-Carroll Mortuary, 738 E. Santa Paula St., Santa Paula, 525-3391.Rosie A. FairbanksRosie passed away Thursday, January 19, 2006 at home. She was born October 29, 1918 to Harley and Frances (Cornelius) Burleson in Bolivar, Missouri.In January of 1919, her family moved to Santa Paula. She attended Santa Paula schools and graduated from Santa Paula High School in 1937. On November 29, 1942, she married George (Pudgy) Fairbanks.Rosie loved reading and doing counted cross-stitching and other handwork. She worked for General Telephone Company, and as a bookkeeper for Max Randolph Trucking and Vetco.She is survived by her son, Charles (Chuck) Fairbanks; daughters, Carole and husband Bob Reese and Cheryl Ray Fairbanks; grandchildren, Kevin and wife Patty Fildes, Leslie Backer, Sherrie and Ken Yarbrough, and Laurie Reese; six great-grandchildren, Nicholas and Stephanie Fildes, Kala and Kobie Yarbrough, Mike Mitchell and Kaitlyn Rice; sister Madeline Burleson; sisters-in-law, Pauline Burleson and Elizabeth Burleson; several nieces and nephews; and many friends.She was preceded in death by her husband, George (Pudgy) Fairbanks, parents Harley and Frances Burleson, and brothers Johnny, Marlyn and Ray Burleson.Special thanks to Assisted Home Hospice nurse Katie and nieces Vickie, Wendy and Susan Burleson and Marleen Brink for their help as caregivers.Donations may be made to the Burleson Family Memorial Scholarship in memory of Rosie, 500 E. Santa Barbara St., Santa Paula, CA 93060.Visitation will be at the Skillin-Carroll Mortuary, Santa Paula, on Wednesday, January 25 from 5 to 8 p.m. Graveside service will be held on Thursday, January 26 at 11 a.m. at Pierce Brothers Santa Paula Cemetery.Arrangements are under the direction of Skillin-Carroll Mortuary, 738 E. Santa Paula St., Santa Paula, 525-3391.William S. HoweryWilliam S. Howery, 89, of Santa Paula, passed away on Sunday, January 22, 2006 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Howery was born August 26, 1916 in Oklahoma, and came to California in 1950, where he was a 55-year resident.Mr. Howery’s pride and joy was his family, and spending time with them was above everything. Then came his business; he was the owner/operator of Howery’s Brake Shop in Ventura for over 30 years. After his business was completed, he enjoyed raising palominos and riding in the Ventura County Fair Parade and other parades as time permitted.Mr. Howery was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Pauline Howery, his daughter Jo Ella Ellis, and his son Mel Howery. He is survived by his daughters, Alta (husband Jerry) Burgess of Texas and Pat Coca of Santa Paula, eight grandchildren, and nine great- grandchildren.Graveside services will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, January 27 at Pierce Brothers Santa Paula Cemetery, with burial to follow.Arrangements are under the direction of Skillin-Carroll Mortuary, 738 E. Santa Paula St., Santa Paula, 525-3391.