The 90-year-old California couple who met an internment camp for Japanese Americans died within days of each other
A prominent California couple who met and fell in love in an internment camp for World War II Japanese and Americans died within days of each other.
90-year-old Elizabeth Yamada succumbed to COVID-19 on May 20, just nine days after her husband, Joseph, died of battle with dementia.
Elizabeth was the first Asian teacher at San Diego High School and later sat on boards of government agencies, colleges, museums, and foundations, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Joseph was a well-known architect who helped design SeaWorld and the University of California San Diego.
The pair were both born to Japanese immigrants in San Diego in 1930 – but only met when their families were forcibly imprisoned in post-World War II internment camp in Arizona.
90-year-old Elizabeth Yamada succumbed to COVID-19 on May 20, just nine days after her husband, Joseph, died of battle with dementia. The pair first fell in love at an internment camp for Japanese Americans in 1942
Poston opened just months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Between 1942 and 1945, up to 120,000 Japanese-Americans were driven from their homes and sent to internment camps by order of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan apologized for the internment of Japanese-Americans, saying that the government’s actions at the time were based on “racial prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”
Poston was barely habitable, with rows and rows of hastily constructed tarred barracks “where sand penetrated through the walls and scorpions crawled up through the floors.”
Its location in the middle of the desert meant extreme heat in the summer and extreme cold in the winter.
In a 2006 interview, Elizabeth recalled that she had been sent to camp with only one suitcase. Even her father, who had a master’s degree from Princeton, was not immune to incarceration.
Elizabeth and Joseph were forcibly imprisoned in the post-World War II internment camp in Arizona between 1942 and 1945
Poston was barely habitable, with rows and rows of hastily constructed barracks constructed “where sand penetrated the walls and scorpions crawled up the floors.”
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan apologized for the internment of Japanese-Americans, saying that the government’s actions at the time were based on “race bias, war hysteria, and failure of political leadership.”
But a few days after her arrival at the camp, at the age of eleven, she met Joseph Yamada, and the course of her life changed forever.
After being liberated from Poston in 1945, both Elizabeth and Joseph completed high school in San Diego. They both went to study at the University of California Berkeley and got married in the 1950s.
The couple had three children while they both enjoyed their career success.
Elizabeth taught English at San Diego High School, while Joseph became a partner at a leading architectural firm in the city.
His designs helped shape San Diego’s look and feel, with a colleague saying to The Times, “There was a sensitivity that permeated everything he did. Because of its creativity, each project had its own personality. ‘
Elizabeth and Joseph both received degrees from the University of California Berkeley. Elizabeth became the first Asian teacher at San Diego High School, while Joseph became a partner at a leading San Diego architectural firm
Elizabeth later became a partner in her husband’s architectural firm and established herself as a prominent speaker and writer – writing stories about the experiences of Japanese-Americans forced to spend time in internment camps.
But despite their individual success, the couple remained inseparable.
They told The Times that it comes as no surprise that they died within days of each other.
“They raised us a little bit of everything. They were open to everything and everyone, “son Garrett told the publication.
The couple both died at the age of 90. They are survived by their three children