MISSION – James Shunso Kawamoto, 95, passed away on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, at his home in Mission.
Mr. Kawamoto was well known in the agricultural community for his involvement in the Valley’s produce and citrus industry. He was born on May 5, 1920 in Stanton, Calif., to Bunichi and Miyako Kawamoto, who immigrated from Hiroshima, Japan, in the early 1900s. At age 2, he traveled to Japan, where he grew up and received his early Japanese education and was raised in the Buddhist faith. He returned to the United States by the age of 12 and spent the next years growing up in Compton, Calif. and attended Compton Junior College during the time when all Japanese Americans living on the west coast were notified of internment during WWII. He spent the next three and a half years interned at Poston, Ariz.
Upon his release, Mr. Kawamoto worked in the auto industry in Detroit and then helped his father with their family truck farming operation in Houston. He traveled to the Valley to visit relatives where he met his future wife, Shizue “Susie” Sakai. They married and would spend the next 66 years together.
In the Valley, he farmed vegetables, cotton, grain and melons and later became a citrus grower which he continued doing until 2014. He was recognized throughout his life for his farming achievements because of the quality of his fruit and vegetables.
Survivors include his daughters, Joanne and Susan; sister, Kikuye Omura of Houston; and two grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Shizue; daughter, Carolyn Kawamoto Parsley; and a grandson, Drew Isamu Despain.
Visitation will be held on Friday, Sept. 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Ric Brown Family Funeral Home in Mission. A funeral service will be held at on Saturday, Sept. 12, 10 a.m. at the funeral home. Interment follows at Valley Memorial Gardens in Mission.