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Susie Ishikawa Sato

08/05/1917 - 09/07/2015
Service Date: 09/26/2015
Service Time: 11:00 AM
Service Location: Bunker's Garden Chapel, 33 N. Centennial Way, Mesa, Arizona

Susie Ishikawa Sato, born August 5, 1917, passed away peacefully at home on September 7, 2015. A native Mesan, “Peaches” graduated Mesa High in 1934. She was involved with Cactus Pine Girls Scouts, Mahnah Club, and the John Rhodes Rehabilitation Institute. She was also a longtime proponent of Mesa and Arizona history with the Arizona Historical Foundation, Mesa Historical Society, Mesa History Museum, and Mesa Public Library History Room. She was Mesa’s first Pride In Mesa recipient in 1998 for her lifelong efforts to preserve the history and legacy of Mesa.

Susie was married fifty years to her husband, Carl, prior to his passing in 1991. She is preceded in death by parents Kurataro Ishikawa and Hatsuno Taniguchi, brother Zedo Ishikawa, and sisters Jean Hirohata, Sally Ishikawa, and Mary Tanita. Susie is survived by her children Suzanne Nakashima (Will), Barbara Brennan (Barry), and CK Sato (Holly), eleven grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, two sisters—Sumiye Nishida and Helen Hirohata, sister-in-law Janet Ikeda and numerous nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, September 26,2015 at 11 AM at Bunker’s Garden Chapel, 33 N. Centennial Way, Mesa, AZ. No flowers please. Donations will be forwarded to organizations of Susie’s interest.


  • Will be missed by so many people. Proud to be one of the many nephews you had.

  • Susie was a good friend to me from the time I first went to the temple. This is a great loss. My sympathy to all her family and friends.

  • a very beautiful lady, inside and out, to be missed by many. Do they make them like her anymore?

  • Susie welcomed me when I came to the Arizona Buddhist Temple for the first time. It was a seminar day and also my birthday. She introduced me to people who I have come to know over many years. I will always remember her kindness and welcoming and try to embrace others as she embraced me. Thank you to all her family and friends who have been with her throughout her life and especially in these last years.

  • I would like to offer my deepest condolences to your family. At times like these the Bible have proven to be of great comfort. The Bible book of John chapter 5 verses 28 and 29 holds out the hope of a resurrection for our loved ones who have past and Joshua chapter 21 verse 45 let’s us know that God fulfills his promises. I hope these Bible verses will bring your family some comfort.

  • Joyce (Matsumoto)Tominaga

    From the Matsumoto/Tominaga Family Tucson, Arizona. Mrs. Sato will always be remembered by me and my family for her beauty, grace and friendliness to all she encountered. My condolences to her entire family and friends near and far.

  • My deepest condolences to the Sato family. Susie contributed to the history of Japanese Americans in Arizona by generously sharing her own knowledge of Arizona history with undergraduates (Valerie Matsumoto, now a professor at UCLA),and graduate students including Andy Russell (now a professor at Central New Mexico College) and Eric Walz (professor at BYU Idaho). She facilitated the Arizona Historical Society’s Museum’s procurement and translation of documents and artifacts, and was a major motivation behind the Japanese Americans in Arizona oral history project when it began in 2003. Susie wrote one of the first articles about the Japanese American community in Arizona, “Before Pearl Harbor: Early Japanese Settlers in Arizona,” Journal of Arizona History vol 14, no 4 (Winter 1973), and provided connections to community members that allowed scholars like Matsumoto, Russell, and Walz to publish further research about the unique experience of Japanese Americans in Arizona. Susie Sato will be remembered for her ever-gracious smile, her generosity, and her commitment to documenting the history of Japanese Americans in Arizona.

  • Susie and her husband Carl was always a good friend of mine Susie got me started teaching Dharma school every Saturday night she would call and say Al I cannot teach my class tomorrow would you take it and I did a course I’ll miss you Susie thanks for everything

  • My deepest sympathy to Susie’s family and loved ones all. I know that Susie had an amazing, full life and was one of those quiet giants (in energy and spirit – certainly not size!) who was a real worker-bee in our community of historians and in the community in general. I feel very lucky that I got to know Susie and I always thought of her as one of my adopted Grandmas – her warm, friendly spirit was beautiful and comforting. She was as hard a working farm gal as I’ve met, and that’s saying a lot because I know those farm gals are all hard workers! Every time we had a big event at Mesa Historical Museum she was one of the last to leave, insisting on staying and scrubbing pots, putting stuff away, etc. She was truly a force of nature. And for all that, one of the most modest, soft-spoken people I’ve ever met, especially considering her many accomplishments over the years.

    Susie will indeed be missed. I can say too that we were lucky to have known her. Thanks for everything, Susie!

  • Sending my sincere condolences for her family. Susie was incredibly kind and gracious to me when I was working on my master’s thesis at ASU so many years ago. A most beautiful, dear woman.

  • It was in the early 1970s when I met Susie & her colleagues/staff members at the Hayden Library’s Arizona Historical Foundation. I was a very young & new Library Assistant assigned to the department known as the Arizona Collection, located next door to the AHF. Both departments served the needs of students, scholars, the general public in their research/academic needs. Card catalogs, library stacks, exhibits, reference services, primary/secondary sources/archival materials used in the Reading Rooms of both areas served many a student! High school students too!..And there was Susie: the woman with a heart of gold & a sharp mind full with the knowledge of Arizona history…we became long-time friends. With her knowledge of local-area history, the history of Mesa, combined with her own personal story of struggle and hard work, made me want to learn more about the History of Arizona. Numerous students, including me, would not have those degrees in History (the AA, BA, MA or Ph.D) if it weren’t for Susie…the Reading Room in the AHF was their home-away-from-home & Susie nurtured every one of those students, made them successful in the classroom, away from the classroom. They’re seasoned Professors, important Scholars & teachers now, with many perhaps retired too. Susie Sato was their link to academic success. But she was my friend too. I loved and admired Susie. I will never forget her.

  • In the early 1980s I was searching the ASU Libraries card catalog for my favorite author’s works when I learned that the items I wished to read were non-circulating items housed in the Arizona Historical Foundation (AHF). I mentioned this to another staff member who suggested that I go to AHF and speak with Susie. When I spoke with Susie, she was thrilled that I was interested in reading the items and gave me special permission to take the books home with me for a few days. I’ll miss Susie. She was a real treasure.

  • I worked with Susie as a summer intern with the Arizona Historical Foundation way back in 1972. I have never known a kinder soul in my life with her zeal for history and her personal interest in everyone in her world. Susie certainly was a national treasure who will be missed by many, many people. I never will forget her kindness towards me and her professional encouragement. With 40 years with the National Park Service, I have no doubt that my experience working with Susie encouraged me to consider a career in public history.

  • I knew Susie when I was an undergraduate at ASU in the late 1970s and Susie was with the Arizona Historical Foundation. I’ll never forget how welcoming and encouraging she was to me. She was one of the most generous and kind people I’ve known. She will be missed.

  • Robert L. Spude, Ph. D.

    My condolences to Susie’s family. I never knew a more beautiful person, co-worker and friend. As a student at ASU in the 70s I benefited from her nurturing manner and enthusiasm for Arizona, its people and past, an enthusiasm she never lost. She helped so many people at the start of their careers, and after. I last saw her at a Western History conference and she had not lost that energy and grand smile. Lucky were we to have known her.

  • I was deeply saddened to learn of Susie’s death. As a graduate student in history at ASU during the 1970s, I spent much of my time in the AHF and quickly came to appreciate Susie’s knowledge of the collection and her kind assistance. Along with Sylvia Bender, the late Geof Mawn, and Bob Spude, I also enjoyed greatly the time spent with her, and learned much about the Japanese-American experience in the Salt River Valley from “Peach’s” reminiscences. I have one special recollection that involves a dinner at a Japanese restaurant to which I was invited by the Satos. Susie wanted to know if I wanted any sake. That drink was not among my favorites, but to be polite, I said yes and extended my glass. She began pouring, and before I knew it my glass was full. Susie then explained that it is customary for a person to raise the glass slightly when enough had been poured. Of course, I drank the whole tumbler, but do not recall much about the rest of the dinner.

  • Sarah Moorhead (Zafra)

    Condolences to the extended Sato family. Susie was a dear friend, whom I admired so much. She was a great help in the Mesa Room of the Mesa Public Library when we were first organizing the archival aspects of the collection. She told us what to order for supplies, how to handle photographs, etc. She and Mary Olive Mott collected the scrapbooks and papers of several former mayors in Mesa to copy, if not to keep. Susie was so intelligent and a great editor; she significantly improved the history of the Mesa Historical Society. She was also strong – she moved a piano in the Mesa Historical Museum auditorium when others could not. She accomplished so much, but was very modest – she never bragged. She put others at ease with her diplomacy and kindness. She was truly loved.

  • September 24, 2015
    Susie was my Arizona Angel from 1971 to 1981. My daughter Tara was born in Scottsdale. With Susie’s love and support, we survived a difficult pregnancy. She frequently invited the baby and me for lunch at or near ASU, as well as inviting us to her home for major holiday festivities. Please know that your mother’s kindness, wisdom, generosity and gentle ways really came to the rescue of this homesick and lost soul! She shined a brilliant light on all of us.
    Susie planted seeds of kindness everywhere she went and with everyone she touched. There was a contagious quality to her gifts of self to others. Susie leaves the world with her legacy of caring and sharing. May you find comfort in the knowledge that she taught us all how to live in grace, not with words or textbooks, but by the example of her own life and deeds. I was truly blessed by her friendship and will never take this for granted.
    Please remember the good times with her. You all have within you, the very best of your mother.

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