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Yayoe Kuramitsu

"My family was always generous, in spite of the war thing," says Yayoe Kuramitsu, who was born in the Gila Bend internment camp in Arizona in 1943. "They had three grocery stores and a restaurant -- fed a lot of people who couldn't pay." Kuramitsu studied art at San Jose State, taught high school for two years on Oahu, then returned for a master's in social work from Boston College. "My mother taught me the concept of service to humanity," she says. After seven years at medical centers in Hawaii, she joined her sister in Eugene in 1977. "It was the best thing I ever did," she enthuses. "The richness of culture -- so many good causes to get involved in." In addition to 19 years at Sacred Heart, where she directed the medical social work department and the Center for Senior Health, Kuramitsu has served on 20-plus boards and committees, from the Oregon Health Plan to Meals on Wheels. Semi-retired for five years now, she consults pro bono at the Alzheimers Association and puts in one full day per week as an eligibility screener at Volunteers in Medicine, a clinic for uninsured working people. "I like to support underdog organizations," she notes.

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 7 August 2003

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