James Kawano

Obituary of James Kawano

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James Kawano (Jim) passed away peacefully in his home on February 9, 2023, at age 93. A true embodiment of determination, endurance, and strength, he will be deeply missed by all who knew him. 


Jim was born on June 16, 1929 in Loomis, California to Sode and Daisaburo Kawano.  He was the youngest and last surviving sibling of eight: Thom, Mary, Shizuo, Natsuko, George, Jack and Haruye. He had fond memories of childhood on his family farm where he and his brother Thom were troublemakers, feeding fermented rice from sake to their chickens and laughing as the chickens ran around intoxicated. 


In 1942, during World War II, Jim and his family were forcibly relocated to a concentration camp in Tule Lake, California.  Jim’s father passed away unexpectedly at Tule Lake in May 1945, while working to construct a building within the camp, leaving his mother to raise the children alone. The family was released and departed camp in October 1945.


Jim moved from Loomis to Sacramento in 1949 and started junior college. At that time he met and began dating Jean Fujimoto.


Jim was drafted into the US Army in 1950. He became a decorated US Army veteran, having served in the Korean War and was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for his heroic service. After being honorably discharged from his service in 1952, he married the love of his life and wife of 69 years. Together, they raised their two children, Steve and Dana. 


After retirement he and Jean discovered a new passion in tennis. Jimmy, as he was known by his Kawano’s Killer Raqueters tennis group, was a renowned tennis player known to chase every stray ball and notorious for diving into the net, never accepting defeat. For 30 years, Jim regularly played tennis with his buddies with many laughs and falls along the way.


In addition to his passion for tennis, Jim was an avid reader, a faithful sports fan, and loyal supporter of the Kings, 49ers, and Giants. During the pandemic, he’d watch the latest game while he and Jean folded thousands and thousands of origami paper cranes that were sent to Washington D.C. to be included as part of the Tsuru for Solidarity march in June 2020. Jim spent his final years continuing to fold thousands of paper cranes  which are currently on display at the California Museum’s exhibit - Uprooted: An American Story. 


Jim is survived by his loving wife, Jean, and children Dana (John) and Steve (Lisa). Loved and missed by grandchildren Lindsay (Brandon) and Lauren (Nick), and great-grandchildren Chase and Mila. 


Private services were held. No koden please, and any donation may be made at a charity of your choice.


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James Kawano

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James Kawano

1929 - 2023

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