Jane Kitamoto Akita, age 60, died Feb. 17 of a brain aneurysm at her home in Bellevue.
She was born Jane Chiseko Kitamoto, June 2, 1941 on Bainbridge Island, the youngest child of Frank and Shigeko Kitamoto. The family was sent to internment camps when Jane was still a baby.
Her first childhood memories were of life at Manzanar and Minidoka, internment camps in California and Idaho. The family returned to Bainbridge Island when she was 4 years old.
As an adult, she often lectured high school students about her family’s experiences during WWII.
She graduated from Bainbridge High School and went to the University of Washington where she earned a nursing degree, graduating in 1963.
One day later, on June 14, 1963, she married Jerry Akita.
The couple moved to Chicago, where she worked as a public health nurse. They lived briefly in Eugene and moved to Bellevue in the 1960s.
She became the Mercer Island High School nurse in 1974 and joined Bellevue School District in 1986. She was the nurse at Interlake High School before taking charge of the BSD state-mandated drug and alcohol program.
She also co-founded Natural Helpers, a peer counseling system, and quietly directed high school smokers into stop-smoking classes. She retired in 2001.
She and her husband made their first trip to Japan last fall to visit their family roots.
After years of watching daughters Annie and Debra play competitive tennis in junior and senior high schools, she started playing tennis. She was a member of the USTA Seniors League, and had qualified for a regional tournament just before her death.
She was a founding board member of Rotacare, a health care program for uninsured families at Hopelink in Bellevue.
Survivors include her husband, Jerry; daughter and son-in-law Andrea Akita Chun and Aaron Chun; daughter and son-in-law Debra Grindeland and Geoffrey Grindeland ; grandsons Gareth and Tadashi Grindeland; sister Lilly Kodama and her husband, Joe Kodama of Bainbridge Island; sister Frances Ikegami and George Ikegami of Cocoa Beach, Fla; brother Frank Kitamoto and his wife, Sharon of Bainbridge Island; parents-in-law Hiram and Helen Akita of Bellevue; sisters-in-law Barbara Nagaoka and her husband, Dick Nagaoka, and Corky Kozu and her husband, Jim Kozu of Seattle; brother-in-law Wayne Miyahira of Honolulu; aunts Fumiko Hayashida of Seattle and Midon Yamasaki of Wakayama, Japan; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 23 at Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church, 3001 24th Ave South, Seattle.
Remembrances may be made to the Jane Akita Endowment Fund at Bellevue Youth Link, P.O. Box 90012, Bellevue, Wa. 98009-9012.