August 30, 1927 – February 21, 2018
Tomeko Yugmai Autry was born August 30, 1927 in Yokohama, Japan. She was one of seven children, she had five sisters and one brother. Tomeko, or "Tomi" as she was known, graduated from high school, a rarity for women at that time in Japan, and went on to attend seamstress school. With a desire to create beautiful things, my mom's passion for sewing lasted the rest of her life, making her children's school clothes through high school and Halloween costumes for her great-grandchildren. Tomi could also grow just about anything and loved working in her garden.
My mother was one of the bravest women our family ever knew. She was feisty. She definitely stood her ground. My mother met my father in Yokohama, and eventually left her home to begin a new life with him in the United States, and in 1951, the two of them made a three-week voyage aboard a slow boat from Japan to America. My dad had a great time, my mom was seasick for the entire three weeks. She began her new life as an Army wife as soon as she arrived, traveling the world with her husband, and eventually, her two daughters. She had to learn English quickly and, after studying for her citizenship test with Ms. Walling from down the street, she became a naturalized citizen, when my sister and I were very young. The older Margie and I got, the more we came to appreciate my mom's strength.
One of my mother's greatest joys was becoming a grandmother. Daddy and Momma would literally fuss over who got to play with Chris first. Both grandparents cared for Chris during the first two years of his life while his parents worked. When Chris went to kindergarten, they would pick him up from school every day, and this continued until he went to middle school. He was their light, In 1989, Tomi became a widow at the age of 62, and while I know that this was incredibly hard for her, she was determined to continue living a full life with friends and family. She filled her days with gardening, shopping, going out with friends, doting on her grandson, and watching her beloved Japanese videos. One of her friends with the Japanese satellite channel recorded my mom's favorite soap operas on VHS tapes and mailed them to her so that she could keep up with her favorite programs. Some months before my mom passed, Chris, Margie, and I counted almost 1,200 VHS tapes in her little room in my house. She loved those videos, and I was warned more than once about trying to het rid of them.
Mom carried on as her vibrant self until very near the end and would light up every time her family was around. She died peacefully on February 21, 2018. Her husband of 38 years, William James Autry, preceded her in death, as did her mother, father, her five sisters, and her brother. She is survived by her daughters, Margaret Denise Autry, Marilyn Marie Autry Bingham, her grandson, Christopher Daniel Bingham and his wife Rachel Ann Bingham, and her two delightful great-grandsons, Hudson Sanders Bingham and Maxwell James Bingham. Her extended family and friends were also very important to her and, as we know, she would want all of us to celebrate her life instead of mourn her death.
- Memorial Service Saturday, March 17, 2018
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