Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kimiko Kitayama turns 90!

Kimiko and Robert Kitayama
This past weekend we celebrated my mothers 90th birthday.  At first she did not want a party, ”what’s the big deal about turning 90?”.  But it is a big deal and a lot of people wanted to share in her celebration.   As a little time passed she warmed up to the idea and soon we had the makings of a nice event.  The party was composed of mainly Fuji and Kitayama family members, many who had traveled across the country to attend.  One reason  so many family members attended is my mother is an amazing person and represents our “greatest generation,” the Nisei.  The Nisei are second generation Japanese Americans who were born in the USA just before WW II and famously were sent to Relocation Camps after Pearl Harbor even though they were American citizens.  The distinguishing feature of the Nisei were how they were able to prosper after WWII  without resources and facing a potentially hostile post WWII  America.    The Kitayamas left camp in Idaho and moved to Northern California and after 2 years of working for other flower growers were able to scrap together a little money to buy a piece of land in unincorporated Alameda County.   One of the first neighbors who welcomed and helped the Kitayamas were the Fuji family who had been growing carnations from before the war.  Kimiko was one of six Fuji siblings who knew the four Kitayama brothers.  My father Ray married Kiyome Kato and they had 4 children.  Kiyome sadly passed away in 1976 after battling cancer for several years.  Ray and Kimiko renewed their friendship after many years and were married in 1977.

Kimiko has been my mother now for 35 years.  Those years included; my graduating from high school and college, travel and “finding” myself, marriage, kids and career.  I needed support and guidance and received it from both my parents and the rest of my extended family.  Kitayama Brothers is about flowers and family.   Our success is our ability to work together as family.  We use the example of my parents and aunts and uncles that built our company  as the model for how the company should be run.  We also make sure our kids understand our history and a sense of responsibility to keep our legacy growing.

Thank you mom for who you are and how you inspire your family.

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