Reiko Fukuyama Ohye, 86, passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by family, on Thursday, April 22, 2021 after a brief battle with cancer.
Born in San Luis Obispo, California, Reiko was the second daughter of Masaye (Nishimura) and Hiroshi Fukuyama. She had two sisters, Sachiko Shirley and Kazuko Nancy.
On her 7th birthday, February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt authorized Executive Order 9066, initiating the internment of Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast of the United States. On that day, Reiko returned home from school to find her father had been taken away. The family was reunited when they were interned together in Poston, Arizona from 1942 to 1945.
After World War II, the family settled in Seabrook, New Jersey. Reiko was a proud graduate and supporter of Douglass College from which she had received her degree in chemistry-bacteriology in 1956. Following graduation, Reiko worked as a microbiologist at the Rockefeller Institute in New York City.
All her life, Reiko was active physically and intellectually. Reiko enjoyed going to the ballet, participating in her book club, taking art classes, visiting museums, attending Zumba, going to the theatre and giving sage advice (if only people would listen). In 2016, Reiko returned to Douglass, where she was invited to speak of her internment experience in a plenary speech, “From Japanese Internment to Douglass,” as part of the course Knowledge and Power: Issues in Women’s Leadership.
While she had many interests, most important to her were the people in her life. Reiko was the loving dowager countess of her extended family and circle of friends. She had a “more the merrier view” of entertaining and was at her happiest when her home was full of loved ones sharing in celebration. By nurturing in a million ways, large and small, her family and friends all became one large, loving extended family with Reiko at its heart.
Reiko is survived by her three children, Diane Ohye and husband, Gary Mitchnick, Rick Ohye, wife Bonnie Ohye (Dahman) and daughters Maddie and Lily Ohye, and Jan Ohye and husband, Osni Omena. She is also survived by her sister, Kazuko Nancy Fukuyama, former spouse, George Ohye, and beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, her service will be private. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Douglass Residential College STEM Initiatives for Women at https://bit.ly/3gA96mc.