Jerry Shigeaki Fujitani of Hingham, Massachusetts and Naples, Florida, known by family and close friends as Ojii, passed away on Thursday, August 29, 2019 after reaching 98 and a half years of life. He was born in Glendale, California on February 23, 1921. He is survived by his three daughters, Charlene Sullivan (Philip), Kathy Sweet (Adam), and Rebecca Fujitani. He also leaves behind four grandchildren, Mikieh Sullivan, Sokichi Sullivan, Julia Sweet, and Jacob Sweet. He was married to Jeannette Mikie who passed away in 1990.
Jerry had a half brother, Bill (Torao), who was ten years older. His mother, Okome Nakamoto, traveled to Japan with Jerry to give birth to his sister, Kyoko. She died during delivery and Kyoko died not long after. Jerry stayed in Japan and was raised by his grandparents and an aunt. He was a resilient child. He had to endure the scrutiny of peers for wearing the westernized clothing his father sent for him from the States and the loneliness of not having a mother and a father who was distant. He persevered. As a young man Jerry was athletic. He was the captain of his track team. He was known for his speed and competed in sprint events. He was also focused on his studies and graduated top of his class. An honor of which he was proud.
His return to California coincided with the beginning of WWII. It is at this time that he and his family were placed in the camps where they remained until the end of the war. After the war, he, and the others, were given the option to travel to anywhere in the country. He chose New York as he had always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. Several years later, he met Jeannette. They married in 1964 and started a family. They resided in New York City until they moved to Huntington Station, New York in 1975. Jerry was a chauffeur for Mitsubishi International Corporation.
Jerry had an abundance of patience and grace as a father. He took the family on vacations during the summer and always included extended family members and friends. The wonderfully fun memories of childhood on Lake Wallenpaupack, PA and Lake George, NY will always remain bright and strong. He taught any interested child how to fish in a little row boat and sent them down the country road to the country store on foot with a nickel each. He taught his children what they needed to know when they needed it most. He was patient, thoughtful, giving, kind, and understanding of others even in the most stressful of times.
He was at his very best as a grandfather. Ojii, as he was affectionately called by many, always had time for his grandchildren. He enjoyed tea parties, playing games, and simply being in their presence. His childlike ways served him well around children. Ojii loved sporting events and attended the children’s games whether it was baseball, softball, soccer, or field hockey up until last year. He also enjoyed watching his grandchildren during their many performances and recitals.
Ojii also enjoyed reading - and collecting - the newspaper every day, staying up to date on world and national news and politics. He often watched CNN and Fox News. He was registered as a Republican but wasn’t a party voter. He carefully weighed the candidates’ positions before making his decision. As many grandparents do, Ojii was convinced that one or all of his grandchildren would become a world leader or a professional athlete and expressed this to them on a regular basis.
At 98 and a half years old, he was still mobile and had a positive outlook on life. He continued to spend time outside and in the garden, his favorite past time. Everyday he marveled about something: the quiet, the sun, his meal, a grandchild...his gratitude and smiles will be missed. Many remember him mowing the lawn well into his late 80’s, and the hours upon hours he spent hand watering the garden and lawn through his 90’s. He was grateful for everything and found beauty and peace in his surroundings.
All are welcome to join the family for visitation starting at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 7 at 9 Triphammer Road, Hingham, MA, followed by a service at 5:00 p.m. and a reception to celebrate Jerry’s life. The family will also celebrate Jerry in Naples, FL, and in Huntington, NY, where his ashes will be laid to rest with his wife, Jeannette.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to South Shore Elder Services Special Needs Fund: https://sselder.org/donations/special-needs-fund/ or consider doing a conscious act of kindness – it will make him smile.
“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” – Buddha