Frank Mitsugu Fujii
1917 - 2016
Frank Mitsugu Fujii peacefully passed away at home with family at his side on September 26, 2016. The oldest of two sons, Frank was born in Salt Lake City, Utah to parents Kintsuchi and Tatsu Fujii on October 25, 1917.
Frank was a long-time resident of Santa Barbara, moving here at the age of nine. He attended a one-room grammar school on the Mesa, Santa Barbara Junior and Senior High schools, as well as the State Teachers College on the Riviera. He left Santa Barbara for four years during WWII when he was interned at the Gila River internment camp in Arizona.
After returning from Gila, Frank worked on the Williams estate in Montecito for 27 years. He also worked part-time which eventually lead to a permanent position at Lotusland in Montecito. Frank worked with Madame Ganna Walska to create the Japanese Garden of her dreams. In 1972 Madame offered Frank a full-time position in the Japanese garden and he remained employed there until after his 90th birthday.
Frank was dedicated to his family. As a senior in high school, Frank took on the responsibility of the family farm after an accident left his father unable to do the work. He continued to support his parents until their deaths in 1957 and 1983. Frank met his future wife, Dorothy Nomura in 1948 and they were married in 1952. They raised their three daughters on the Williams estate. In 1989 Frank and Dorothy moved to the Las Positas area where they enjoyed watching their treasured granddaughters grow up.
He lived life fully, and in deep appreciation for what he was given, always observing and learning from all that he encountered. He worked tirelessly and without complaint to provide a good life for his parents, his brother and his wife and daughters. Frank lived his life much in the way of the austere Japanese gardens he admired—its strength and beauty in the understated. Frank was a peaceful, caring soul with a great sense of humor that touched many lives and will truly be missed.
Frank is survived by his wife of 64 years, Dorothy, and three daughters, Roberta Cook (Steve), Melanie Fujii, Doreen Sasaki (Glenn) and his two granddaughters, Allie Ester (Chris) and Morgan Cook (fiancée Jonathan Russell). Frank also leaves behind his younger brother, Robert K. Fujii.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Eric Trautwein, and the Visiting Nurses and Hospice Care staff and volunteers, especially Elizabeth, Lupe, and Marie for their incredible loving care of Frank and providing compassionate support to the family over the last year and a half.
There will be a memorial service for Frank on Saturday, October 15 at 2 p.m. at Bethany Congregational Church, 556 N. Hope Avenue, Santa Barbara. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Lotusland (695 Ashley Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93108), or to the Visiting Nurses and Hospice Care (512 E. Gutierrez Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103) in Frank’s memory.