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Family Funeral Care

13001 South 3600 West, Riverton, UT

OBITUARY

Fumie Suzuki Swenson

January 10, 1929April 18, 2020

FUMIE SUZUKI SWENSON (1929-2020)

Fumie Swenson passed away on Saturday, April 18, 2020 in Kearns, Salt Lake County, Utah. She was born Paula Fumie Suzuki in Nagoya, Japan on January 10, 1929 to Paul Sentaro Suzuki and Hisa Shitagaki. Her education at Sugiyama Jogakko high school was interrupted by the 1945 B-29 mass bombing raids on Nagoya, which her family survived. They then took refuge with her mother’s family on their silkworm farm in the mountain village of Takayama. When they returned to Nagoya during the US Armed Forces Occupation of Japan, she was employed as a clerk at Komaki Air Base, where she attended an American Bible study class, and met her future husband, Air Force Sergeant Robert Andrew Swenson, a musician in the Fifth Air Force Band.

Sentaro’s grandfather, a samurai named Bunzaburo Kawai, was converted to the Russian Orthodox Church and raised his family as Christians. During the Russian Revolution, the Japanese Army joined the U.S. Army in supporting the Russian Republic against the Bolsheviks. Sentaro was drafted into the Army and sent to Siberia, where he attended church and was invited to the home of a Russian family for Christmas dinner. Three decades later, in 1947, he asked his daughter Fumie to invite one of the American Christians she knew to Christmas dinner. Seven months later, Robert “Bobby” Swenson and Fumie were married on September 4, 1948 in a Russian Orthodox ceremony, and married again by the U.S. Consul in February 1950. They were later sealed for eternity in the Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in June, 1952, and made a point of celebrating their three wedding anniversaries.

Robert received an early discharge from the Air Force so he could serve as a missionary in Japan for the Church of Jesus Christ. Their first son, Raymond Takashi, was born in Nagoya on December 29, 1949. Fumie was gravely ill with toxemia, but recovered quickly through the faith and collective prayers of Robert and the other Church missionaries in Japan. Fumie was baptized by Robert in the Kisogawa River in Nagano Prefecture in June 1950, and she served as a counselor in the first Church Relief Society organized in Japan. Robert and his missionary companion, Elder Nichols, were the first Church of Jesus Christ missionaries in the city of Fukuoka, Kyushu. Fifty years later, the second of three Church temples in Japan was built there.

In April, 1952, Robert completed his mission and the family sailed for America, and were welcomed into the Salt Lake home of Robert's parents Ruth and Emil and his sister Joan. They bought a home in Kearns where they raised their five children. For several years, they attended the Japanese Dai-Ichi (First) Branch of the Church and served as missionaries to Japanese-American families in Utah. They were members of the Mount Olympus Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. Fumie loved tending her home’s Japanese garden, and she performed on the koto, a traditional Japanese stringed instrument, for many church and community events. Robert worked at the Postal Service, and became a leader of the Salt Lake Letter Carriers Band, which performed for many community events. Fumie accompanied Bob on many of the trips the band made to Hawaii and other cities around the nation. When they retired, they began many years of service in the Jordan River Temple.

Fumie made a number of trips back to Japan to visit her family, including a trip in 1981 with Bob and their daughter Pamela to stay with their son Raymond’s family in Tokyo, where he was serving at HQ Fifth Air Force. Ray had served as a missionary in Japan in 1969-1971. Fumie's last trip was in Spring 2011, and she was in Nagoya on March 11 when the largest earthquake and tsunami in recent history hit northeast Japan.

For over 30 years, Fumie worked at the Mikado Restaurant in downtown Salt Lake and had many friends in the Japanese American community. Fumie was an excellent cook of Japanese cuisine, and taught her daughter, daughters-in-law and granddaughters how to prepare sushi and other foods. She would prepare wonderful Japanese feasts for the traditional New Year’s holiday. In Japan, turning 88 is a milestone birthday, and for her birthday in January 2017, Fumie’s family put on a huge celebration at the Kearns 14th Ward meetinghouse, with Japanese dancing and live music, Japanese food, and hundreds of friends and family, while she wore one of her beautiful kimono.

Fumie’s beloved husband Bob passed away in May 2009. Their five children include Raymond Takashi (Connie), David Sentaro (Pamela), Michael Shigeru (Kathy), Pamela Naomi Swenson Clark, and Cory Satoshi (who passed away in 2016). They have over 50 grandchildren and great grandchildren (several of whom have passed on before her). In Japan, she is survived by her sister Kimie Miyagawa and her family, and by the families of their late brothers Sadao, Masaru and Yutaka, and sister Sachiko.

Special thanks to our sister Pam Clark, who cared for Mom since her stroke several years ago, and to visiting nurse Leandra and CNAs Jennifer and Kali who helped with Mom's medical care.

Interment will be at Valley View Memorial Park in West Valley City, Utah, on Friday, April 24, 2020, at her beloved Robert's side. The Swenson family hopes to have a public memorial service at a future date.

Services

No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.

Memories

Fumie Suzuki Swenson

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milton iwaasa

April 28, 2020

Fumie was a dear friend to my mother, Miiko Iwaasa. Fumie and Bob would visit us in Canada and talk about the good old days in Japan. Miiko and Fumie would regularly talk to each other on the phone and give each other encouragement to enjoy the blessings of life. Their friendship was priceless and beautiful.

In 2012 Fumie travelled to Hawaii to go sightseeing with my mother and some family members. It was a joy to have her be my mother's companion and they truly had a lot of fun.

We will miss her dearly and we are thankful for the time we had together.

Alison Olsen

April 28, 2020

I grew up in Salt Lake, always reading the obituaries- thanks to the internet, I continue to do so. I read Fumie's obituary and remembered it because she lived such an interesting life. I was delighted to hear "the rest of her story" today on the podcast "What's Her Name". Thank you for sharing the story of your amazing grandmother and great-grandmother with the world!

Judy Brown

April 27, 2020

Robert and Fumie were always such wonderful people. I worked in their doctors office and learned to love them so much.
Fumie always was so happy and brought smiles and sunshine to everyone's faces. The last time she was in to see us (Dr Ayers) she made us all laugh. She was a ray of sunshine to everyone. She will truly be missed.

Rob McCleve

April 27, 2020

Dave and Mike,
My heartfelt condolences to your family at the passing of your sweet mom. My dad passed away the following morning and so the grief you feel still lingers near my heart. May the Lord bless and comfort you and may your testimonies of Truth support and sustain you moving forward. May our paths yet cross again my dear friends.
Rob McCleve KHS '71

Dennis Macabeth

April 26, 2020

Best wishes to you, Ray, and your family in this time of loss and reflection.

Daniel Turlington

April 26, 2020

Although I did not know Fumie, I do know one of the fruits of her love and labor, Her son Raymond. It seems that she had a wonderful, long, blessed life. May your family find peace through this transition and God-bless you on your next journey

Sherrie Davis

April 24, 2020

So growing up in Kearns we knew pretty much all our neighbors 2 streets over each way! And because of that I truly feel I was raised by a village. There are so many people who have meant so much to me growing up and who have left me sweet memories. This sweet lady is one of them! She always had treats for us at church if we were in her primary class. My niece Jami and I would walk around the block in the summer several times a week and would stop at certain houses that welcomed us and made us feel special and we would always get a popsicle from Sister Swenson. She was humble and kind and didn't talk about herself she just wanted to make us smile. I never knew all of these details about her life, I just knew she made me and my niece feel loved. In fact when Jami would attend church with my parents, she would only go to Sister Swenson's class in Primary and refused to go to any other, even when she was supposed to go to the next class. Sister Swenson let her sit with her every time in Primary. Such a sweet lady.

Brian Namba

April 23, 2020

I will miss Sister Swenson and her always uplifting and pioneering spirit. For over fifty years I have seen her randomly at community and family gatherings. She has always had a kind word and gave loving reports to me about her family. She is a grand lady and sister.

Reed & Afton Bartlett

April 23, 2020

She was a wonderful friend and a special person. It was wonderful to hear her stories about her childhood and marriage and feel her excitement. She would light up any room and you could just feel the love and caring that she had for people. We feel it was a privilege to have her as our friend.

Reed & Afton Bartlett

April 23, 2020

She was a wonderful friend and a special person. She could make you happy just looking at her because she radiated love and caring. Her wonderful stories about her youth were exciting to hear and taught us many lessons about life. It was our privilege to know and to love her.

FROM THE FAMILY

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