We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Richardson Funeral Home
Shizuko Nomura Hoffman, 93, passed away September 13. She was born on February 13, 1929, in Tokyo, Japan.
From her earliest days in Japan growing up through the Great Depression and World War II to a life that brought her to a new country where she continuously reinvented herself, Shizuko made it seem as effortless as a stroke of her calligraphy brush. Her life was defined just as much by her unabashed ability to accept any burden as it was to extend a helping hand to those in need.
When Shizuko’s father passed away at age 13, it was she who took up many of the family duties to assist her mother and five brothers. Mirroring her mother’s spirit and attitude, a woman who proudly claimed she could do the work of any man, Shizuko tended to her brothers’ needs and supported her mother financially. It was a transition she accepted and embodied, an experience that would prove as a harbinger of a life to come.
As a 15-year-old, Shizuko worked at the Japanese Army Headquarters in Tokyo, running errands and documents. Two years later, following the end WWII, she took a job in the kitchen of a military base now occupied by the U.S. military.
A chance meeting in 1955 led her to meet Wade Hoffman, her future husband. Wade recalls fondly when they first met – Shizuko “accidentally” spilled coffee on him while he was stationed at the military base she worked at. In 1956, they married at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. They later welcomed their first daughter, Patricia, and began making a plan for the future, one that meant leaving Japan.
In 1957, the family landed in York, South Carolina. Shizuko was in a new country, surrounded by people far different than herself, and facing another drastic transition. But she fell back on what she knew best – hard work and family, which would soon grow with the birth of their second daughter, Jeff, the next year.
When the family left for Mesa, Arizona a couple years later, Shizuko had learned the basics of American life while becoming a rather impressive Southern cook. After the long cross-country drive, she once again worked and took care of her family, now in the Southwestern desert heat. Her career path took many turns, but her constant concern was the success of her husband and daughters. She became a staple in the Japanese American community throughout Phoenix, helping to support other people from Japan who faced the same transition as she. When her grandchildren were born, she taught them about Japanese culture, food, and life. When called upon, she was always there for others.
Now, her spirit will live on through the next generations, an unofficial Japanese living treasure for two countries, two cultures, and the many people she influenced along her path.
Shizuko is survived by her husband, Wade, daughters Patricia and Jeff, grandsons Ty, Matthew, Cori, and Jeff, and great-grandchildren Ethan, Keanu, and Penelope. Services will be held at Richardson Funeral Home, 2621 S. Rural Rd. Tempe, Arizona 85282, on Friday, September 30 at 1:30pm. Light refreshments will be served. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Shizuko Hoffman’s name to the Arizona Buddhist Temple, www.azbuddhisttemple.org or Hospice of the Valley, www.hov.org.