Henry Shigemi Kawata passed peacefully on October 28, 2019 at the age of 91. He was born on May 19, 1928 to Takaji Kawata and Masano Asano in Portland. His parents immigrated from Japan seeking work and a better life. Together they had five children, of which, Henry was the baby of the family.
Henry grew up in southwest Portland and attended Shattuck Elementary until the eighth grade. After the war broke out, his family was taken to the Portland assembly center waiting for relocation. He yelled from the train to his friends, “I’ll see you beyond the hills in Idaho” when being sent to Minidoka Internment Camp.
During his family’s internment, he attended and graduated from Hunt School. He later joined the Army where he met and married Chikako Shishikura in a traditional Japanese marriage in 1948. A House of Representatives bill allowed Chikako to come to America in 1951, where another marriage ceremony took place.
Henry retired from the post office after nearly 30 years of service . He was known as a prankster where he would light fire crackers while colleagues were in the restroom. Henry also earned the nickname “Wimpy” as a youth for his love of hamburgers. Nearly all of his old friends only know him as Wimpy.
Wimpy is survived by his older brother (Kaz), sons Dale, Michael and Larry, and granddaughters Sophia and Alyssa. Donations can be made to Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, Portland Nichiren Buddhist Temple or Ikio No Kai.
Wimpy, dad and grandpa will truly be missed!!!
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