Fumiko Emily Takei, mother of “Star Trek” actor George Takei and who was among the Japanese-Americans forced into internment after Pearl Harbor, died Saturday May 25. She was 89.
Takei, whose son played Mr. Sulu on the original TV series and in films, was born in Florin, Calif.. At 10, she was sent by her parents to Japan for her education. She returned to California and was married in 1935. In 1942, Takei, her husband and their three young children, including George, were sent to internment camps, first at Rohwer, Ark., and later at Tule Lake, Calif. The family returned to Los Angeles after the war.
George Takei, who was 4 years old when the family was interned, remembers her strong will and courage in the face of extreme difficulty.
“When we were taken into the internment camps, they told us not to bring anything sharp or mechanical,” Takei said Wednesday. “My parents sold off everything we had. But she had a brand new portable sewing machine she didn’t want to give up. She marched right past armed MPs with that sewing machine wrapped up in her clothes.
“When I think back, I’m even more grateful and in awe of her strength and will and resilience.”
She was active in a Buddhist temple and served as a volunteer at a senior citizen’s hot meal program. She was widowed in 1979. Survivors include her three children, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and two sisters.