Esther Ruth Oda
November 20, 1921 - September 19, 2018 Resident of San Jose
Esther Oda passed away after living 96 adventurous years. Born in Seattle Washington, she was the only daughter of four children of Toshiharu and Ko Kambe. Atypical for the time, she was raised to be independent, outspoken, persistent and with the expectation of graduating from college. Raised in Seattle, she was attending University of Washington when her family was displaced by the forced internment of people of Japanese ancestry during World War II. She was released from camp in 1943 to marry her husband Bill, who was at Camp Shelby, MS with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Her marriage to Bill brought many adventures as a wife of a career Army officer. Esther once calculated she and Bill moved 34 times over his Army career many of which included moving the family which had grown to four boys. She was the glue that held the family together during these transitions and always kept an upbeat and positive attitude in the face of many of the cultural and local adjustments. Bill’s last station of duty was at the Presidio in San Francisco which brought the family to the Bay Area and eventually to San Jose when he retired from the Army and went to work for Lockheed in 1968. Finally able to put roots down, they enjoyed raising their family in one spot. Esther was active in her son’s Scouting programs, Little League, West Valley JACL and Villa Montalvo’s service group. She enjoyed golfing and Ikebana and will always be remembered for her culinary, crafting and sewing skills. She will be forever grateful to Wesley United Methodist Church for the faith and friendship they provided to her and Bill. As a widow, she would always remark how important her Wesley friends were to her. Her adventurous side continued well in to her 80’s with Birthday celebrations that included sky diving in a wind tunnel and zip lining in the redwoods.
Esther was preceded in death by husband Bill and brothers George and Chuck. She is survived by her brother Victor, and her sons Ken, John, Tom (Yuri) and Mark and four grandchildren; Keiju, Mieko, Christian and Kai.
The cremation took place in a private ceremony and a celebration of life will be held on October 19th, 3 pm at Wesley United Methodist Church 566 N. 5th St, San Jose. Parking available on the church lot on 6th St. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Wesley United Methodist Church, Yu-Ai-Kai, National Japanese American Historical Society or a charity of your choice.