DONNA KUWADA Always near. Always loved.
Besides being cheerful and friendly, Donna was a determined person, so I didn’t have a chance. She used her friendliness and charm to get what she wanted. Once she made up her mind, it was nearly impossible to change it. She hooked me and unselfishly offered me a hook remover when I joined the airlines. The BEST decision of my life was not to take it When she got too aggressive and ordered me around, I fought back and told her, “I was the Captain of this Ship”. She smiled and said, “yes dear, but I’m the Admiral”. In the end, she had no regrets, loved life, gave back to the world, and accepted her fate bravely, as she had everything she wanted since her 6th grade dream; a girl and a boy, a nice home, and a caring husband like her dad. It seemed like she was God’s gift to man, I was the luckiest guy in the world to have her, but did not always realize it. She is missed.
Donna was the best Mother I could have every asked for. She always wanted to see almost every performance I was in, and would organize her friends and family to attend for support. From Taiko, to marching band, to orchestral concerts, my Mom & Dad were there to watch me. Before she passed away, I had a very good conversation with my Mom about her life. She had no regrets on her life. She cherished every moment with her friends and family. Most importantly, she was proud of my sister Trisha and I. She said we were the best thing that ever happened to her. I got my Mom’s smile, her musical genes (along with Dad’s), her giving nature and love.
I love my Mom with all my heart and her legacy will live in all of us forever.
Mom had always been my hero. Growing up, I wanted to follow in her footsteps and be just like her. We would dress a like, I would act like her, and later, have the same career. Many say I am just like my mom, and whenever I hear those words, I will take it as a compliment. She was loved by many. I hope to touch just as many lives as she had.
I wish I had more time to spend with mom. I’ve only spent a few years with her, but enjoyed every moment. Being with Trisha, I’m reminded that she really is her mother’s daughter. Although she is no longer with us, I feel like she is with us every time I see Trisha smile, or hear her laugh.
My Angel has left us. I will miss her telephone calls every other day. I will miss her coming to visit us often. She would bring us all kinds of goodies from her garden. I will miss her concern for our health, my golf games, my coffee bunch and all our friends. I will miss her at our dinner table, taking a sip of my Johnny Walker and our conversations. Speaking of that, the last time we talked, she held my hand and said to me “thank you, Dad”. I didn’t know what she meant until I got home. She was telling me that she will leave me real soon. The next day, she left us. Donna had suffered for so many years, but she is okay now. She is in good company with Uncles Paul, Chor, Tommy and MaMa and Ya Ya.
Dad (Wing Lai)
Donna was a very special daughter. She was always concerned about my health and reminded me to take care. I remember our children giving us a surprise 25th Anniversary at Golden Dragon in Oakland and also Dad’s 60th birthday party at the Clarion Hotel in Burlingame with the large marquee saying “Happy Birthday Wing Lai”. All this was largely paid out of Donna’s meager salary as a new teacher, although she let Cliff and Vicky contribute some since they were still in school. She didn’t tell me but I knew and thanked her for her generosity. When we came back from China on Sep 12, she made us a large pot of jook and it was delicious. That shows how thoughtful she always was towards other people. On Sep 19, we had dinner together at Lotus Garden and within 2 weeks, she was gone. Nite Nite sleep tight my dearest. I hope the fleas have wings!! …..with that she smiled.
Mom (Dorothy Lai)
A letter to my sister How does one say how much someone meant to them and to recall a lifetime of memories on a page of words? No words that I can string together will be enough to express the feelings I have for you, my big sister. In the past months, I better understood that your belief in God was what guided you to live your life your way. Once I embraced this fact, and as I let go of the healthcare professional side of me and became the sister you needed, I fully supported your choices right up until the end. I was astounded/amazed/overwhelmed by your spiritual faith. I even asked you at one point “How do you keep so strong?” And you just looked at me with utter calmness and said “I’m in a good place. I’ve lived a good life.” True to your nature, you were always concerned about others and never became self-centered or angry when you were hospitalized (even I was getting flustered at those oxygen tubes that kept pulling at your ear or the nasal cannula that kept coming out of place!) You always found time to appreciate the nursing staff for the care they provided to you. You made them feel special even when you were struggling. Your peaceful demeanor, even in the final hours, made a lasting
impression on all around you. On the final day, as we sat side by side at the edge of the bed, I could not help but to physically lean on you to feel more of your presence knowing that the time was short. Despite being the weaker one, you let me lean as we talked of childhood times, like when you were my chaperon for trick or treating down College View to those” scary” houses , or we just sat quietly. You squeezed my hands as the emotions got the better of me and kept repeating that “you’ll be alright.” I’m still not alright, just to let you know, but I trust that you’ll help get me to a better place in time. You definitely were the MOST generous person I know. You always thought of the relatives, knew their birthdays (and remembered their birthdays on the actual days!), knew what was going on with each family and was basically the conduit for us and extended family. You were the family’s central “go to” person who was up on every family tidbit! When I had my surgeries, you always brought up food so that I would eat more-this included healthy foods but also the fun” junk” foods you were famous for. You loved family vacations and playing mah jong with mom and the kids. If not playing games, you were the first one to the flea market in Honolulu! You always loved a good bargain, especially when you “negotiated” a better price. You always thought of filling my kitchen shelves with stuff. Knowing how much I love the color red, you were always on the lookout at the De Anza flea market for any red kitchenware and then texted me with the picture and deal. Sunflowers will ALWAYS remind me of you. I think the huge, bright, happy flowers symbolize you and your personality. Everyone thinks of you and can’t help but smile
with happy thoughts. I could never understand how you grew your sunflowers so large, much less those avocados, tomatoes, snap dragons, and who could forget the massive zucchinis you brought home. It just goes to show the soil you reaped was bountiful (in more ways than one.) I will miss the weekly phone calls, the texts about our SF Giants and who is the cuter player, our banter about foods, talk about the kids, worries about mom and dad, or just talk in general. I guess we’ll just have to communicate across other channels. Once you figure out what channel, let me know. You can have your scotch and I can have my wine and watch sunsets together. I know you’re up there in Heaven, meeting new souls and maybe even finding our relatives and gathering them together for a Chinese dinner with all the fixings (they must have custard tarts in Heaven!) I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re organizing activities or even teaching in a classroom by now. You will forever be my big sister. Thank you for changing my diapers and the hours of babysitting. Thank you for still taking care of me even though I think I was quite a little sister type of brat when you had friends over. Thank you for bringing me treats from the Sears’ cafeteria after your
shift. I’m sure you helped intervene when Cliff tried to pick on me at some point in time so thank you for that too! Thank you for helping me grow. Thank you for your love, strength, and for teaching me what inner peace is like - even in the darkest of hours. Your beautiful imprint lives within me.
As my big sister, I always looked up to her, that was a given. Being baby sat by grandparents, Lawrence School, Chinese Baptist Church, getting to meet her ‘girlfriends’ (as a kid), trip to Taiwan together – all good times. It was a big deal when she got married and started to have kids – I was nowhere near that stage in my life and looked at her new lifestyle with envy and said ‘wow, this is what I want in my life’. Moving back east, she was always insistent on family gatherings and when my family came out west to visit – food, food, food, party, party, party. Make sure you visit with Auntie such and such, get together with your cousins, don’t forget to call so and so. She would take my kids for a day or so and teach them some Chinese and Japanese culture, and bond with them over a sleepover. We were so fortunate for the last 18 years to go on annual family vacations, just the 15-16 of us to some far away place hanging out together, solidifying the family bonds, endless memories, and all happy times bathing in the warmth of the family. Near the end of Donna’s terrestrial life, all of the family -- from mom and dad down through to the grandkids – were all there to lend support for each other and to keep the nuclear family together and strong. I am sure this is what she wanted and what she worked all her life to maintain. She told me to take care of Trisha and Kenton, and I said “of course….and Wayne too”.
Love you Sis.
Heading over to the Kuwada’s house when we were younger was always a treat. Auntie Donna helped make such an inviting atmosphere and made sure we were taken care of and had eaten our fill. This carried over into our family trips, get-togethers, and oft anticipated mochi making experiences. She was never one to back down from an all-day shopping challenge, which is reflected in her family today, as well as the warm love for those around her.
Auntie Donna will always have a special place in my heart. Her house was always filled with laughter and too much food. Her big smile and musical laugh is a part of her I hold dear and will never forget. We miss you, and hope that the next part of your journey is full of love and joy.
Words are inadequate when it comes to describing my dear Auntie Donna. I’ve been damn lucky to have been around the world with her, and I’ve done so much with her that a lot of what I feel for her comes to me in memories, moments in time somehow preserved through the decades of high school and job hunting. I’ve been lucky to share 26 years with an extraordinary aunt, and I’ll never forget the moments we’ve had. One of the most enduring memories I have of us together (apart from gorging ourselves on handmade mochi .. alright that was multiple times over) takes place on the deck of a cruise ship. We were striking out toward Alaska on my first cruise, and I had only just gotten used to the fact that ice cream was available 24/7. That first night, I chose to tap into my inner Asian, taking some green tea out onto the deck and watching the coastline go by. I think only a few minutes passed before Auntie Donna came outside to watch with me, just the two of us. We both gripped our steaming mugs, leaning on the railing. We were alone save for a few others braving the chill as the ship lazily traipsed up the Inside Passage. It was an immaculate setting, with tiny coastal lights and the light murmur of the ship’s wake breaking and an otherwise still night. We didn’t say much. There wasn’t much to be said about the gorgeous Alaskan wilderness passing by underneath a cold sky.
We simply stood in the beauty of it all, just her and I for what could’ve been hours. It felt so good to experience life’s treasures like that with her, as we would do many times over in the years to come. I remember looking over and she had a small, peaceful smile on her face, the one only meant for the two of us. It was contagious, and I felt like she and I connected so deeply right then and there. From then on, we’d always find time to share in these moments, when we both would leave our daily doldrums behind and enjoy a quick second (or hour) of unearthly peace. I shared this with her right up to her passing, and I have no doubt she and I will have more times to share in my future travels. Auntie Donna, you’re never far from my thoughts. I love you. Now.. where do you want to go next?
Auntie Donna has touched so many people’s lives, and I will never forget everything she has done for me. There are many things I remember but some of the greatest memories I will never forget. Here are the most memorable things I will remember forever about Auntie Donna: Hawaii, we were in Hawaii for one of my birthdays at a luau when I was little. I remember everyone eating and drinking and having a great time. Auntie Donna was having such a great time until a half glass or full glass of wine into it, she got red and fainted a little bit because she was partying too much. Lemon Bars, always wanted to get the perfect recipe because she knew how much I liked the tart sour lemon taste in it, we would have countless conversations on how sour is to sour. Knife Problems, I cannot tell you how many times I remember growing up, at our family dinner when Auntie Donna was in charge of chopping up something for the meal. She would always find a way to cut, slice, or take a little bit of her finger off with the knife. No meal was complete without a small event happening. Easter, growing up I remember the Easter Egg hunts in her backyard and candy, always had to have candy, all the cousins had a sweet tooth, especially Marcus and my mom. Her emails, her fun informational family event update emails or funny pictures or gifts. Always a pleasure to read and always kept me in the loop of family events, the emails sent to me would always start with “we missed you”.
and a life lesson I will take with me throughout my life happened when I was a little boy, about 7 years old. All of us cousins were together for this summer. We all went down to San Jose to visit and stay over at the Kuwada house. Our plan for that day was to go make mochi for one of Auntie Donna’s groups. It was optional of course, but I told her I wanted to do it and I was looking forward to it. At first it sounded like fun and I was all for it, very excited and couldn’t wait. Oh boy was I wrong, it was the complete opposite. At first it was cool and interesting, but as every other young boy, I had ADD and I lost interest very fast and did not want to continue anymore, this was only an hour or two in. I remember looking at the clock every couple minutes hoping it would turn a little bit faster. I remember being a little bit of a brat and pretty much just complained and complained, wanting to go home and play video games, from what I remember it was Banjo Kazooie. The most important part of this memory that I remember was Auntie Donna taking me aside at one point, telling me if you’re going to start something and tell people you’re going to commit, to never back out of your word and to see something to the end. After the talk she once again asked if I wanted to be taken home, but I decided to finish it out and to try to make the best out of the experience. Sure enough I put my focus onto it and ended up having a decent time at the end. This was the type of person Auntie Donna was, a teacher, a mother, and a great role model. So selfless in her choices and only wanted the best experiences for you, always putting you before her. Thank you for all the memories and countless lessons Auntie Donna, I will never forget any of them.
I would have to say, the memory I remember the most
From the first, when you welcomed me as Cliff’s girlfriend into your house that first Thanksgiving, you always made me feel part of the family! We are incredibly lucky to have such a close family and you were a critical factor - planning holidays, trips to Costco, family dinners. We will miss you and try to live up to your example of always putting family first! I will hold you close in my memories!
If there were one thing that I will always remember about my Auntie Donna, it would definitely be her planning skills. I’ll tell ya, Auntie Donna was the most organized planer that I’ve met to this day, my cousin Trisha coming in a very close second (wonder where she got it from :/ ). Whenever we went on a trip I could always count on Auntie Donna’s Tourist To-Do List to give me some order during those crazy trips; where I get a full day to enjoy about a whole weeks worth of sight seeing, shopping, and eating in less than a few days. I will be thinking of her indefinitely every trip while I try to figure my own daily schedule during trips. I will always cherish these memories she gave me.
Before any of social media, there was actual physical present that people met and spent time with the individual. Donna was one of these individuals who touched more people in her life than one has linked to their social media account. Through her family or her profession as a teacher, the lives she influenced and touched - I’m awestruck. She is one of the most positive/optimistic person that I ever grew to know. For that, I’m grateful to have experienced her vibrancy and energy. All the way to my recent visits, she was always positive, spiritual and never concerned of herself, but me and my family. Through all the trips I took with her and the family, this positive attitude and her drive to find a flea market or swap meet for the best deal is forever imprinted. For these I will miss. I know that your recent love for the San Francisco Giants and the spring training trips and all the autographs, I attribute their success for their 3 Championships. I will miss you, but one request, 2016 is an even year - PLEASE guide your Giants from above.
Proudly, your brother Keith Fukuhara
At the end of the corridor was room 2327. Kenton met me outside. We exchange greetings and a few words. He had just returned from his amazing adventures in Europe and ‘didn’t expect to return to this’. He was teary and told me he had to leave for work. I stood at the door and Wayne, as usual, gave me a warm greeting. I could tell he was very tired. Servant that he is, he placed a chair bedside for me. I held hands with Donna, both hands. She had a good warm grip. Donna was hooked up to oxygen, some kind of nebulizer, tubes and wires. Some guy walked up checking and moving the tubes and wires. Donna introduced him by name. “He’s been taking care of me”. “Thanks for taking such good care of Donna. She’s very special to us”. “Yes, I could tell from all the visitors”. I looked back at Donna but was interrupted. The guy was still futzing with the tubes and wires. “I’ve been working here 6yrs and this is the first time I’ve seen them so tangled”. “Donna’s an over achiever”. Turning back to Donna I ask, “How long have you been here”. After a pause, “been here a week”. “Oh, I didn’t know that”. “I won’t be going home”. She didn’t need to explain. The next part must have come out of my heart because I don’t remember thinking. ”Are you scared?” There was no fear in her eyes. “Oh, you’ll get to see Jesus face-to-face before any of us. That’s exciting and sad at the same time”. She smiled. “Save me a place at the table and we can have a cup of tea, OK? Make mine green tea. Streets of gold Donna, Streets...of...gold” She smiled. I
had no doubt that she had read the book of Revelation and knew what I was talking about. “I’m at Peace” she said. We both smiled. We talked about this and that. Her dad made her lunch that day...very special to her. She told me Kenton brought Chip to the hospital to see her...dog therapy. She asked about my mom. I showed her a picture of mom’s freshly painted house. She asked about my family...told her about Alyssa’s stray dog found/lost story. She talked about Trish’s Michael and how he’s serving but ‘not quite there yet…’ referring to experiencing more of Jesus, worship, church and the fellowship thing. She smiled big when she mentioned fellowship. She said she was hoping to see the people she wanted to see. I took the moment to pray with her that God would strengthen her so she could see everyone she wanted to see AND say the things she needed to say. Prayed for other things for her too...things too deep to write. Praying with her is a very precious treasure. Anita, Yucaipa and Janelle arrived and entered the room. Wayne greeted them. I looked at Donna and she said ‘Bye Arvie’. I thought I was getting the boot...she was actually saying goodbye. I kissed her forehead. She told me she loved me too…looking forward to our table conversation over green tea...
Excerpt from Arvin Wong’s journal Oct 2, 2015
This is how I will remember Donna. God gave my cousin, Donna Lai Kuwada, a servant’s heart. In this day in age the idea of a servant is not a good image to most people but for Donna, “image” was not her thing. Humble, the willingness to serve others, seeking other peoples’ comfort rather than her own and promoting others rather than herself, seemed natural to her. It is the character quality of deference, thinking of others above herself. She served her students, her family and her extended family and gave honor to her elders.
“Donna”, This word only means one thing to me. But....... Hold on. If “Donna” was a drink, it would be the most satisfying, thirst quenching, comforting, stress-relieving and happy drink known to man.
She was gentle, compassionate, generous and forgiving. She was determined to remain joyful in her suffering. Only Donna and Wayne know the depth and breath of her pain.
If “Donna” was a food, it would be the most delicious, mouth-watering, savory, fragrant and sumptuous morsel that could ever touch your tongue.
I hope when it’s my turn to see God and step through the door to eternity that I will hear the words that Donna has already heard “We’ll done, good and faithful servant enter in to your master’s joy”
If “Donna” was a car, it would be smooth, luxurious, comfortable and efficient.
I know it hard for you and Vicki to lose a sister, Wayne to lose his life-mate but it must be awfully hard on your Mom and Dad because you really aren’t suppose to bury any of your children.
Love, Armond Wong
If “Donna” was a fabric, it would be soft to the touch, light and warm, protective and water-proof. By now you should get my line of reasoning, perfect things! Keep in mind that the things I just wrote about can be made, bought, or invented. Simply put ...... “Donna” means “Love”.
Donna--- we will always remember her great smile and generous nature. Okasan means mother in Japanese Who could be more caring than Mother. We miss very much.
Mele Hooponopono Peace -- Thia Konda Okasan and Me Inc.
Heaven is very, very fortunate to have the sweetest person on earth join them. We love you Donna. Will miss all the love you have given us.
Calvin Wong on Facebook
Donna will be truly missed. She was always so kind to everyone. My mom and dad always talked what a wonderful person Donna was. She did so many thoughtful little things for all of us.
We will miss her
Nancy Takemoto Morita
I have known Donna since our Suzume No Gakko days! Teaching days! Sierramont days! And best of all...... Zumba days! I will always remember Donna for her smile, cheerfulness, helpfulness, caring ways, and all the other positive adjectives! She was Miss Sunshine!
A model of living each day with happiness.
I have many remembrances of Donna, as she was a kind, thoughtful, gentle, yet, forceful person. I will miss her greatly. 1) Vacationing with friends Roger and Luane McGowan in Hawaii. Donna and Wayne, Nyla and myself shared a downstairs living area. I am a light sleeper, and would get up with the sun every morning. Donna would come out to the lanai at the same time to do her required therapy sessions. It would be a quiet hour or so together, before others would rise for the day. We would talk a bit, but we didn’t need to talk all the time. We enjoyed each other’s company those mornings. It was when I got to know Donna best. 2) Spring training—Nyla and I introduced Donna and Wayne to Giants spring training in Scottsdale. The first time we took them to batting practice they were both so excited to see all the ball players they knew. Wayne was trying his best to snag a foul ball, and Donna was all over the place asking questions. Indeed Wayne did eventually get his prize, and an autograph from Brandon Belt. Donna was equally excited. That first spring we went to several games together, and following springs we would meet up for a putting contest, a ballgame, or a BBQ back at their condo.
Bob and Nyla Norris
Carolyn Iida : I am thankful for the many times Donna invited the whole ukulele group over to her house for dinner, fellowship and practice. (Although Donna always said how it was Wayne and Kenton who cleaned house for these times). And I enjoyed all the lunches she arranged (including coupons!).
Jake Shimada via Scott Shimada:
From the Wesley Ukulele Band
Playing ukulele with her. Many thoughtful emails from her always thinking of and looking out for me. Her support, friendly visits, gifts, treats, and wonderful hugs. Her kindness and loving spirit. Thank you Donna. for being a special part of my life. Love, Jake
Tina Urata: Donna was a sweet, gentle presence in the ukulele band. She was such a trooper, attending practices even for just a short while when she was feeling weak, because she loved the fellowship and the music. Facing the band I could see her sometimes stop strumming as she smiled with her eyes closed enjoying the music. She was so positive and filled with joy, and she was and continues to be a
great inspiration to me. In Bible study, she would sit quietly most of the time, but when she spoke it was often insightful and thought-provoking. I’ll miss Donna in many areas of church life.
Mona Otomori: Donna had a special love for the song “Dites Moi (Tell Me Why)” from the show South Pacific and always thought the tune and light melody lent itself well to the ukulele. I looked up the translation of the lyrics recently and found this English version instead: “Tell me why the sky is filled with music, tell me why we fly on clouds above. Can it be that we can fly to music just because we are in love?” Thank you, Donna, I know you sent me a Godwink.
Donna was always such a giving person, particularly when offering her time to teach our WUMC Girl Scouts hand-crafting skills for patches or badges. Over the years she came to meetings to teach knitting and crocheting on several occasions. Donna was always passing along different craft ideas for the leaders/volunteers to share with the girls. Her time and dedication to our troop contributed to the development of so many girls and young women. We are so blessed to have had Donna’s gifts, Jo Ann Okabe-Kubo, former parent volunteer, Troop 61250, Wesley United Methodist Church
Keeping you all in our prayers,
Jo Ann Okabe-Kubo, Gary Jio and Jemma Jio (former Senior Scout)
Mrs. Kuwada was my first grade teacher. I have fond memories of being in her class. We were pen pals for many years as I was growing up and she would tell me all about her children in her letters. When I started attending Wesley with my own family, it was such a gift to be reunited with her after all of these years. I got to volunteer side by side with her at VBS. She was even one of my daughter Emily’s Sunday school teachers. She may have been petite but her smile could light up a whole room. I will forever remember her by her kind heart and bright smile.
Kelly (Okimoto) Burich
Marcia: I remember her loving sunflowers and cookie exchanges. She was always a wealth of Xmas crafts at hanging of the greens. A go-getter always stepping up to get things done. I loved the way she totally embraced life.
LNO (Ladies’ Night Out)
Donna was a humble servant and giver to everyone. The thought that stays with me the most is that I really miss email exchanges with her. She always, in every single email, took the time to add a graphic or picture and her emails became more than just words, but feeling, empathy and a deeper connection to the person or group with whom she was communicating. Donna had a way of articulating through images what she felt in her soul and that really touched me. Even to this day I find myself wanting to email her a random thought or a bit of news, so automatic and so needed had that connection with Donna become.
Grace: My friendship with Donna goes way back to when we were growing up in San Mateo. Donna attended Lawrence grammar school and I attended Turnbull. We went to churches which were right next door to each other. Even though we didn’t have any classes together, we ended up at College Park Jr. High but then high school separated us again. Years passed and we met up again at San Jose State! After graduation we once again went our separate ways only to meet up at Wesley United Methodist Church in San Jose. Our sons were the same age so we were involved in Sunday School and the Scouting program. We were busy raising our children but as soon as the nest was empty, we formed
our own ladies group which was named LNO (Ladies Night Out). We loved to eat out so any excuse we would go out to celebrate birthdays, Chinese New Year’s, grandmothers to be, outings to Truckee, Christmas gatherings, and much more. Donna organized most of the gatherings and hosted many at her home. The years went by quickly and I wish I had more time with you Donna, but I know we will meet again.
Bev: Donna loved to dance. We were on a cruise ship in China on the Yangtze River. Donna & Wayne would take power naps of about 20 min during the day, so they had enough energy to dance or go out exploring in the evening. One night we had time to dance for a few songs after dinner on the ships tiny dance floor. Hector & I went with Donna and Wayne dancing a couple of times at the Fairmont Hotel. You buy a drink and you can dance to live music as long as the band plays. They knew which night had the best band. Donna had gone enough times so, being the little social butterfly she is, she had gotten to know some of the other regulars there. She had to make the rounds and visit her new friends. I hope there is dancing in heaven, so Donna will be able to enjoy one of her favorite activities
Virginia U: Donna was so special. Someone delivered flowers to me at school for my birthday just a week ago. I did not know who came but Donna was in the hospital at the time and was still thinking of others. (She usually popped in to deliver flowers herself for my birthday and hugged me in front
of my class.) She was a very giving and thoughtful person. Whenever I see sunflowers, I will always think of Donna’s contagious smile. Thanks Donna for many happy memories.
Jeanne: Donna had such a warm smile and cheerful laugh. Her emails were always uplifting. Whether the emails were organizing a gathering or just sending a cheery note, she would take the time to add a funny picture or thoughtful saying using bright colorful fonts. When organizing “LNO” (Ladies Night Out) gatherings, Donna would add her special touch making each event special by suggesting ~ sharing family photos, cookie and recipe exchanges, trying a new restaurant (then we’d stay until closing), birthday celebrations with tiaras and boas, sharing/celebrating family milestones and laughing together at ourselves. Thank you Wayne, Trisha and Kenton for sharing Donna.
Susan: Donna personified the sunflowers she loved. Open, cheerful, seeking the bright side, turning to face the light. When I see a sunflower, I will think of Donna with a tear and a smile.
Bobbie: Although I had known Donna, from the Boy Scout activities at Wesley Church, my first “aha” memory of Donna was during a trip to China. After dinner, we ventured into the night air accompanied by our husbands with the pur
pose of open market shopping. Donna would gleefully ask, “What did you find?” We explored the different stalls without purchasing any of the treasures we found. Later I discovered we shared a common passion for gardening. She would not only be willing to share her bountiful summer harvest of squash with me but her secret “compost tea” recipe. She would email photos of her recent garden discoveries: flowers in different states of bloom. I was in gardener’s heaven. Her invitations to different explorations: Annual Cioppino fund raiser, restaurants, music recitals, and De Anza Flea market were special. Her essence was to be a gleeful explorer; and through her, I have learned to explore more: all in the sake of going for an adventure.
Virginia B: My remembrance of Donna is that she always had a restaurant that she thought we should try. She would send an email suggesting we get together to try one. I remember Donna bringing sunflowers to many dinners or events. It definitely was her flower: sunny and bright.
Shelley: S and S represents Donna. Smile and service. Donna always had a smile when you would see her and she would greet you with enthusiasm. Donna was always helping out with Mission fund raisers, Aki Matsuri, or making lunches for workers for events at church. Donna always served others unselfishly. We will miss you Donna!
I had the pleasure of teaching Sunday School with Donna for several years. She was always so helpful with arts and crafts ideas. I remember she had made a 3-D replica of a tree out of paper, (our class was called “The Giving Tree”) and posted it to our classroom bulletin board. I was amazed by her creativity. She was always thoughtful of others and always led projects such as making greeting or get-well cards for others. I will miss Donna dearly. I am attaching a picture of Donna leading a Mother’s Day Sunday School project this year.
Rob: It’s hard knowing that Donna won’t be in our Sunday School class anymore, and I feel bad for not fully realizing the full seriousness of her condition. We knew she was having some challenges but she didn’t share all the details of the difficulties she was going through, I’m sure because she didn’t want others to worry about her, and mainly because she was a person who believed in being upbeat and positive, no matter what. Donna was a longtime integral and loved member of our Sunday School teaching team. She was always thinking outside the box in regards to coming up with various projects and ideas for getting the kids to understand how God is always present in each of our lives. When she taught, there was always a creative and imaginative project which would capture the kids’ imagination, usually some type of crafts or cooking activity. The students always seemed to engage and focus more than usual when Donna would come to Sunday School with one of her well planned projects. She would give the rest of us teachers specific assignments to ensure everything ran smoothly and efficiently. Sometimes, if someone in the church family might be going through a difficult time, for instance, an illness, or some other problem, Donna would have the kids
make some type of card or note wishing that person well, designed to cheer them up, thereby showing the class how God’s love through each of us can make a difference. Or sometimes she would have the class make cards simply to express appreciation to someone that had done something nice for us, with the message to the kids being that we should appreciate each other as a gift from God. At the end of each class, she was firm in her belief that the kids needed to learn to clean up their own mess, so always instructed the other teachers not to clean up for them, so as to teach the values of self-reliance, responsibility, and helpfulness. It was apparent that seeing the students gain an appreciation and knowledge of God’s love and having fun while doing it brought a lot of satisfaction and reward for Donna. Donna’s creative energy, enthusiasm, and caring are going to be missed for sure, but we, both her students and fellow teachers, all gained so much from having had the good fortune to know Donna and learn from her lessons and projects as well as her example, and are all the better for it. We are thankful for her life and that it was part of ours. I started out by saying she won’t be a part of our Sunday School class anymore, but actually, she will always be there.
There are so many things I could say about Donna, but the most meaningful comes from an article labeled “A Woman of Substance”. It describes a woman who is powerful, positive, and influential. Donna embraced life with every fiber of her body, she rightfully stood up for what she believed in, and followed her heart and fulfilled her dreams. She was an inspiration to all who were lucky enough to make her acquaintance. She lived by a set of morals and values that helped and motivated so many, not just her students. We all learned and became energized at her suggestions, generosity, and selflessness. Thank you Donna for being my friend, I will so miss that warm and welcoming simile and of course your informative, inquisitive e-mails. Your loving cousin,
Susan (Jo) Handa
“When it seemed dark, Donna brought the light in and even when it was light, she made it brighter for us. She touched our lives in activities shared with us, i.e., as fan of favorite sport teams, 49ers, Giants, hospitality w/delicious BBQ spread after round of golf (Wednesday Golf Group), VBS (very creative), and as a Memorial Service steward. She was the epitome of love...made each of us feel special. Thank you Donna!”
Its and Liz Yokota
Donna, We will miss your determination, energy and good times. You touched and supported our family in so many loving ways. We were so blessed at Aki 2014 when you wanted to make a difference. You found the resources for alternative parking for our guests and volunteers. Your spirit will continue on at Aki Matsuri. We already miss your go-to-attitude and cheery smile. Blessed you were part of our family circle,
Lori, Byran, Conner and Grant
Everyone should be so blessed to have a beloved friend like Donna. Her teacher background embraced our friendship since I was a parent volunteer in her 1st grade classroom over 30+ years ago.
I likened Donna to a ‘sunny day’. Her twinkling eyes and smile made my day ‘sunny’. She was the organizer for Girls Night Out, starting the emailing to get everyone to agree on a date. We enjoyed various activities – dining, shopping, chatting, laughing… She was very thoughtful and giving and had a genuine good heart. She lives on in our memories.
Love, Girls Night Out members
Donna taught me how to faithfully shop monthly at the DeAnza College and Ohlone College Flea Markets. She thoughtfully emailed coupons to restaurants and once organized a memorable “field trip” to Japan/Hong Kong. Donna generously shared recipes, craft ideas and materials. And, she always, remembered her friends’ birthdays. She was the driving force for our Girls’ Night Outs (shopping, movies, and dinner). Days before Donna passed away my daughter who was in her 1st grade class (and who recently became a Ph.D/Ed) and I visited Donna at Kaiser. Donna smiled and told her, “I’m so proud of you. Don’t worry about me. I am in a good place.” Although her health was guarded, Donna and Wayne came over with meals and support during my recovery from a heart attack in May. She always thought of others before herself. Thank you, Donna, for the honor of being your friend.
For fifteen years, every other week, at the quilting gatherings; I was able to enjoy Donna’s laughter, her projects, the food she shared, the efficiency she applied to getting things done and her boundless energy in support of all of our projects with her ideas and encouragement. I will think of her fondly each time I am at a quilting task.
Donna embraced life. She enjoyed every moment she was given. Donna was a model for us all and we will all miss her.
For myself, I still can’t believe she is gone. Donna always was so positive and so organized and she so loved her family. She’s at peace now and no longer suffering. We, whose lives she touched, will be sad for a while but we have such great memories of her.
I will always remember going into Donna’s Kindergarten class and watching all her students work in small groups or pairs to accomplish a task. Donna’s class worked like a well oiled machine. All students working, all students learning. Donna was an amazing teacher both in Kindergarten and in Middle School. She made sure each student worked at their full capacity. I will miss her laughter, her smile and most of all her positive outlook on life.
Donna, a gracious hostess, effective teacher, creative quilter, caring gardener, dear friend, was one in a million. In quilting, one of “Donna’s Way” was to add extra batting to make certain parts puff up. When I saw her last, she asked me to make her March tulips making sure to add batting behind the tulip for a 3-D effect. I will miss her creative ways.
I have a story, but while cute it doesn’t translate to text well. In brief, it tells the story on a June afternoon when Donna and I opened our BUSD transfer letters. Donna opened hers while walking from A-Pod into the library and I opened mine walking from D-Pod into the library. We stopped looked at each other and simultaneously danced in a circle ran to each other and hugged. We shouted we’re out! I asked, “where was she headed” and she said, “you first”. We both got Sierramont, so we danced in a circle again. We talked about our good fortune for ten more minutes then sat and reflected in the staff lounge. It was a sweet few moments. Donna was a true professional and made the jump from kindergarten to middle school seamlessly. I’ll miss her a lot.
Tommy Tadano: Donna was one of the sweetest, outgoing, and friendliest persons as I have ever met. This was confirmed by her inviting all the Wednesday golfers over to her place on numerous occasions for unforgettable lunches after playing golf. She did this with open arms. The world is a sadder place without her and my condolences goes out to Wayne and his family.
From Wednesday Golfers
I have always appreciated Donna’s kindness and generosity. She was a gracious hostess, opening up her home and preparing food to all of us golfers. She will be missed by all.
Roy & Hannah Takeuchi: Needless to say…Donna will be sorely missed. Although we never worked together in Berryessa, I know she taught with great passion and taught with the highest professional standards. Hundreds, if not thousands of Berryessa students and their parents benefited from her desire and effort to meet the needs of each student. She influenced lives of countless students. Donna’s quick smile, boundless energy and compassion will be missed but forever remembered. Condolences to you, Wayne, and your family. Peace…
Monty Ichinaga: Like many of you who have had wonderful friendships with Donna, she made me feel special. Over the last few years, Donna always found time to write me or have Wayne give me a personal invitation to various church activities. My first thoughts were, “I can’t refuse Donna’s request”.
Tak Okabe: What I remember most about Donna was her “cheerful welcome” as we gathered at the Kuwadas’ after a game of golf. The delicious food Wayne served tasted even more delicious with her smile and welcome. We will miss her and our prayers are with Wayne and the family.
Bill & Shirley Manor: Friendly, caring, and compassionate, everything she did was “Embellished With My Touch”. Thanks for loaning Wayne to the Wednesday Golfers Group. We will miss you “dkserenity”.
Garu Utsumi: Summitpointe is a tough golf course, but we always enjoyed playing there when we could go to the Kuwadas” house for lunch after our round. Donna was a gracious hostess always making sure everyone had enough and was enjoying themselves. She did tell me once that the real reason she had us for lunch was to make Wayne clean up the back yard! She will be missed.
Jim & Mei Miyoshi: Of all the Wednesday golfers spouses, I think I know
Donna most of all. This is because we have a common friend in Dorothy Sato. Dorothy & Donna have been best friends for over 30 years and she is heartbroken. Her daughters were students of Donna. Dorothy and I always share Wayne and Donna stories. I talk about how everyone has fun bantering back and forth with Wayne out on the golf course. Dorothy talks about going to the flea market with Donna. When we play golf, I look forward to when we play Summitpointe when Wayne and Donna hosts us starving golfers to a great barbecue at their house. Unfortunately, my wife and I will be out of the country and will miss the service (my wife is also a “Lai” so there must be some kind of bond with that). We will be there in spirit. Our utmost sympathy.
Herb Nagamine: Donna will be remembered as a caring, thoughtful, creative, and cheerful person. Our golfers group always looked forward to have lunch at their home after a round of golf at Summitpointe. Donna was there to welcome everyone and to make sure that we golfers had enough to eat! We will miss Donna.
Denny Kinoshita: Wayne & family: I will dearly miss Donna’s gracious and giving spirit both at Church and hosting our golf group. With caring thoughts.
Growing up at The Joy of Dancing, you get to know many dancers and their families really well. Donna was always running around backstage, making sure all the dancers had their shoes tied and their hair done. She had a special way about being strict with the little ones to make sure they behaved, while still making them laugh. Not sure how many people know, but Donna secretly took the adult tap class at the studio for many years. I say secretly because she never wanted to perform at recital, it was simply an item she had fun with, to check off her bucket list. After assisting in the tap class, she wrote me one of the sweetest notes at the end of the year, and thanked me for working with her somewhat clumsy feet. I will never forget her smile, her encouraging words, and warmest hugs. I hope she’s enjoying tapping with Miss Joy in heaven now<3
I was saddened to learn the passing of my dearest teacher and close friend Mrs. Donna Kuwada. She was my Kindergarten and first grade teacher at Majestic Way Elem. School. She was also my history teacher in middle school and I was her classroom assistant. Mrs. Kuwada was a very special teacher and I will always treasure every moment that I spent with her and values that I learn from her. I will remember her fondly especially her generous spirit and love. Even when she’s not my teacher anymore, we continue to communicate with each other through letters and sometime spend time together watching movie or hanging out at her house. She always invites me to her house to do crafts or try her new baking recipe. She is very thoughtful and always has something to give. I’m so glad that I have all the things she has given to me to cherish her memory forever. She’s always there to support and encourage me especially in my studies and I’m so sad that she can’t be there to see me graduate in college. She’s there to cheer us up during dance recitals and telling us we did a great job. I am very thankful with every moment that I spent with her. It’s still fresh in my memory the last time that we spend together. She invited me to have lunch with her at her house and it was a special moment because she cooks the food that we shared. I wish I could have spent more time with her this year. I am sure that wherever she is now, she is spreading he same joy and love she has given to us. Mrs. Kuwada will always be remembered and I know that she is with God now. My condolences go out to her family.
Donna was truly one of God’s finest creations as she spread her gifts and talents far and wide. She was an Angel of mercy and light to everyone she touched. I was fortunate to have been graced with her presence not for a long time, but enough to be freshened and uplifted in every encounter. My heart is breaking by this loss. She was a friend, a confidant, an artist. She was filled with kindness which she spread easily. She was strong in faith never revealing or witnessing her own plight as she was such a private person, but was always focused on the needs of others and serving God’s people. She was one who I believe truly walked in Jesus’ footsteps. That I never knew much about the severity of her condition or discomfort is a testament to her strength and will and to her faith. While I never asked for anything, she was there with everything…knowing exactly my needs in perfect timing. Who does that? When I was about to have double hip surgery, she set up a meal program for me filling my needs for several weeks post surgery. She came to visit me and brought by my favorite junk foods. We laughed and chatted—she, always filling me up. A dedicated member of the Wesley Ukulele Band, she played in the background, her quiet presence a gift to the band. I loved playing near her, being one who was both noisy and arrhythmic, because she was all about musicality, all about blending in, all about creating that unified sound. She helped me be a better member of the band. Through the years, it became a tradition to hold one Sunday afternoon practice at her home which she and
Wayne opened up to us, plying us with food and drink and providing a cozy warm place to practice our Christmas tunes. I loved these outings. I miss these outings. I have a memory of playing for Sake San Jose shortly after my hip surgery. It was a chilly night and we were both shivering. I can’t remember what, but something was bothering me, and she sensed my discomfort. When our set was finally done and the group went their separate ways, she encouraged, prodded and goaded me into sharing a meal. She just knew I was upset and after a warm meal dinner and good conversation my heart was alive and my spirit renewed. What a gift! I can’t ever remember giving anything back in return, but relished these times together. You know, when you least expect anything to disrupt your humdrum routine, she would surprise me, breaking up the monotony, with a plant or with food she prepared---healthy soups with lentils and beans or something naughty like slices of Papa John’s pizza that she gifted me at work. She was always so very thoughtful! So generous! So kind! Yes, Donna is one of God’s finest creations. Indeed, my heart is broken by her loss and I miss her. But this celebration of all about her. She is now spreading her wings in the warm and loving hands of God. I celebrate you Donna and the life you’ve shared with us.
Barbara Hiura Oct. 14, 2015
I always admired Donna for her boundless energy. She really took the time to show how much she cared for everyone with her thoughtful notes, emails and little gifts. I will miss her greatly.
What I remember most about Donna is probably what everyone will be saying. She was always so cheerful and positive. Even when she was made at Wayne! We miss the happiness that seemed to always be with her.
Donna was sparkling enthusiasm! She was ready to organize, create, take on a project (or direct Wayne on one ;-) ), entertain and GO! A few fond memory snapshots are of Donna playing the piano at our Christmas parties, enjoying flea markets, overseeing lovely meals around their dining table, taking to the dance floor at company parties, a morning of golf (decades ago), enjoying relaxed, sunny mornings on our lanai during their Kauai vacation, looking the glamorous mother at Trisha’s wedding and her generosity with her wonderful hand sewn gifts. She filled her life with 5 times the activities of my own and seemed to love ALL of it. What a treasure of a friend we were blessed with!
With Aloha, Luane McGowan
I guess I will remember Donna, as Ms. Lai, my 5th Grade teacher. I met her in the fall of 1973 at Garden Gate Elementary School, which I would later learn was her first year as a teacher. She was so full of life and excitement! I realized quickly that this was no ordinary teacher. She let us go out to P.E. in the pouring rain, she took us on an overnight camping trip, and brought in a friend to teach us martial arts in the classroom. Wow! I was loving it! During the last few months of that school year, my family moved from Cupertino, to a little parcel of land in San Benito County, and I finished the school year at a small school in San Juan Bautista. During this time, Ms Lai actually made the long drive to my new home to visit me. I was just one, of an entire classroom full of students, yet she took the time to come see me. I guess that was a demonstration of compassion that solidified a bond I have had in my heart throughout my life. Donna was special to me, and over the many years that have come and gone, I
have recalled the fond memories of the nine months or so of my life, that I got to know her. She helped shape me as a person, and I’m ever grateful. I think God has a way of putting desires in our hearts when we aren’t quite aware of the full impact of those desires. Not long ago, I attempted to find Donna. I did a little research online, and was still unsure if I had located the right person, but decided to send a card expressing how much she meant to me nonetheless. After a week or so of not hearing anything back, I thought maybe I had reached out to the wrong person (I didn’t know her married name.) But, to my pleasant surprise I got an email shortly thereafter. It was so great to hear from her! We set up a time to have lunch and catch up on 40+ years, and that is what we did. I remember holding back tears of joy when I first saw her. She has held a special place in my life for so long. I had no idea that would be the last time I would get to see her, but I am so glad that I did.
Donna was a gifted educator. She had the challenging task of teaching English to non-English speaking students. With love and patience, she not only gave them language skills, but also the confidence they needed to succeed in a new and unfamiliar environment. We all will always remember her generosity and, of course, that stunning smile so many remember.
Estelle Jones - Language Arts, Sierramont (Retired)
I would like to say something about Donna’s kindness towards me. When she came to Sierramont I didn’t really know her very well, yet she treated me like a long lost friend. She helped me with my students in her class. Taught me how to deal with them. When I was having trouble she would tell me how to guide myself. When she found out that I was retiring because we were moving away, she gave a beautiful old heart shaped milk glass dish. I was so very surprised that she had remembered a conversation we had about old milk glass items I was collecting for the last 44 years. I will always cherish her and my dish. She will always be in my heart and memory. Please let her family know how much I respected her. Love to her.
Love, Jolly Banerjee - Para Professional, Sierramont (Retired)
Donna is a very nice and special teacher I met at school. She is cheerful whenever I see her. She is attractive, sweet lady. Her beautiful smiles and magnetic personality will remain in my heart. I love you, Donna.
Susanna Kwong - Math Teacher, Sierramont (Retired)
Donna added to Sierramont. Her warm and giving nature was always present and shared with those around her. This was my experience when in her company. I remember her smile and positive character every time I saw her with friends, co-workers, and with me. Her generosity was an example to all of us and was appreciated greatly. She will be missed. I wish her family peace and love.
Rodney Asano III, Special Day Class, Sierramont
I am thankful for all of the precious memories that I have of and with Donna. During my years at Sierramont, she was a constant source of encouragement and support. During every season of the year as I decorate my home, I have gifts from Donna to put around my home. When my son died 15 years ago, Donna gave me a very tiny tree to plant. I still have it in my yard to this day. I am so thankful for all the many prayer requests that we shared and prayed. She loved our Lord, her family and friends and her Church. In spite of her illness, she was always positive, never complaining and thanking the Lord for each day. I will continue to pray for her precious family, asking God to send great Grace; strength and comfort.
Jackie VanDyke - Alternative Center, Morrill
Friends, I am so sad to now know that the world no longer has Donna in it. She loved her students with a passion and would accept only their best. Donna always, always had a smile and a cheerful attitude. Her love for her children and husband were very evident. I used to tell her how amazed I was at all the time she would put into her classroom lessons and still be after school planning for the next day. She would then go home only to cook for her family and her church. She never was one to sit idle. Donna was in the thick of things whether it be with her quilting or her home remodel. She was always up for an adventure with friends and was in her element when she could help out a fellow teacher or a friend. Donna was a precious person. Someone you could not help smiling at when she came your way. Never one to complain; always positive. When Donna found out I was building my own library, she generously gave me a little side table then made me a quilted pillow for my antique rocker. That was Donna. Giving. Caring. I will miss her as will all who had the honor to know Ms. Donna Kuwada
Pam Logan - Core, Sierramont (Retired)
The smile that seemed to stretch for miles, the smile that filled a whole room, the smile that made you smile no matter what mood you were in, the smile that showed what Donna was made of. This is the smile that helped make Sierramont what it is today. This is the smile I will miss most. Donna deeply cared for people, genuinely cared about how they were doing, what was going on in their lives; and when the news was happy, Donna’s big smile and cheerleader excitement made the news that much happier. I am so thankful to Donna for all the warmth, for all the generosity, for all the care, for all the extra assistance she gave to Sierramont, even after she retired. I will miss her deeply. Love and peace to her family and friends.
Allisha Ross - Language Arts, Sierramont
I met Donna as a new addition to our Sierramont family in 1999. Yes, it was so much like an extended family because of people like Donna. She was welcoming, friendly, with always that smile on her face. Not only did I spend my days working with her but she also became a personal friend of mine outside of school.
Heaven just got brighter -- a special angel arrived! Donna will always be remembered for her enduring smile and her big heart. Always there to help anyone out. And she was so talented in her sewing skills. Will miss her presence at our lunches with the girls and at other social gatherings with friends. I know she is smiling down from heaven at us all and feeling the love. Will miss you, Donna!
Roxanne Chinn - Friend
In my last year of teaching I could count on Donna to text me EVERY morning with a cheerful message wishing me a wonderful day. In retirement, we met with friends for lunch. She loved to plan and organize our Sierramont reunions with the other retirees. It was our way of staying connected to those who meant so much to us. Donna always took time to call or text me every week to see how I was doing even when she wasn’t feeling well herself. She was selfless. Donna, you’re beautiful inside and out. Your smile, your willingness to always help out, your ability to make others feel better about themselves, we will miss. When I see flowers blooming in the spring, I will think of you. When I go out to my garden to have a cup of tea, I will think of you. I have so many wonderful memories of you. You will forever be in my heart.
Janice Mah - Home Economics, Sierramont (Retired)
“In my heart I feel deep sorrow for the loss of an amazing friend and colleague. She was like a second mother to me, always making sure I was okay and sometimes would even pack a lunch for me. That was the kindness I’ll remember and that so many received from her. As a teacher she demanded the best from her students but always did it with that radiant smile I’ll never forget. Her smile brought joy to my heart and the hearts of many. Her presence embodied the love and compassion that all mothers have. May we honor her for her contributions to this world and may her soul be blessed by the grace of God. I love you Donna.”
Paul Chun - Core, Sierramont
Donna was such a wonderful person and always full of life and boundless energy. We will miss her dearly. I pray that God will give her family and friends the strength to come to terms with this loss.
Dr. Dave Singh - Science, Sierramont (Retired)
Any folk knows she was a “teacher-teacher”, Master Craftsman, did her magic on kids at all levels and ages. Her legacy is second to none.
Ken Toledo - Computer Science, Sierramont (Retired)
Where Are You Donna? October 2015 You left us, your family, friends and loved ones, Where are you Donna? Your life touched oh so many in years passed to just a few days ago; Where are you Donna? Your family mourns your passing as with your friends and loved ones; We are wondering aloud; How can it be? And yet, We look to the heavens and see you We hold your hand, We embrace you, We feel your spirit, We hear your voice and see you dancing with your family and friends In a far better place than we, There you are Donna, there you areâ€Ś.
With the Greatest of Love and Respect,
Denis and Shelley Martinez - Core, Sierramont (Retired)
When I think of Donna I think of devotion. She was devoted to her family, her friends, and her students. Always thinking of others before herself.
Rosalie Burket - Math, Sierramont (Retired) I’ll always remember her contagious smile and sparkling eyes, she’ll be sorely missed. God will welcome another angel looking after us.
Carol Shimizu - Friend
Any folk knows she was a “teacher-teacher”, Master Craftsman, did her magic on kids at all levels and ages. Her legacy is second to none.
Ken Toledo - Computer Science, Sierramont (Retired)
I will always remember Donna by her kindness, bright smile, and always willing to share. We would have conversations on food, crafts, hobbies or travels and viola, she would appear in my office with something related to what we just talked about. I once mention about learning more on quilting and the next day she handed me sample quilt squares and instructions. I mentioned knitting and again, needles and yarn appear. Donna was always encouraging and patient and always had her bright smile.
Sally Owyang - Payroll, Berryessa Union School District
I have been thinking about Donna a lot since I moved to San Diego years ago. I regret not making a trip to see her before her passing. Memories floated in my mind as the sad news sent from Lisa. Good times at Majestic Way working for Donna was the best time I spent as a PLA. I admired her teaching techniques toward those bi-lingual students in needs. We had fun at field trips, singing, and cooking as well as at special cultural activities. Donna will be missed dearly. She will be remembered in my heart, in a very special place, albeit time will heal our grieves.
From Van Nham in San Diego
Donna was a teacher in Berryessa and I can’t even remember how long ago we met. Our lives crossed again due to mutual friends. How blessed we were to see her at many fun occasions. Donna was always positive and put others before herself. She played down her illness and never complained about anything. I remember when she retired, she and Wayne decided to travel. Our hearts are heavy with sadness for Donna. She has touched so many people and children in her life. When we saw her last, she said she was comfortable and in true Donna form, was thinking of others...her children and friends. Donna’s smile was the sweetest and best!! She is now our guardian angel smiling from above. How lucky we are to know such a remarkable and selfless person. We are going to miss Donna because she was caring, loving and had much strength. She is now with the Lord but has gone too soon... With Love and Sympathy
Anne and Alan Furuya - Kindergarten, Vinci Park (Retired)
It was such an honor to be friends with Donna. Her kind heart and generosity always made me feel so special. Donna was such an inspiration for me. She made me look at nature and how beautiful it is. Every year, she would send me pictures of the beautiful flowers from her yard and suggested lets get together and paint. When we would get together to paint, it was such a special bonding time for us. I am going to miss those painting sessions with Donna. When I paint flowers from now on, I will be thinking of her. I loved Donna dearly as a friend and will cherish the times we spent together. I will miss her; she will never be forgotten in my heart. I love you Donna,
Jessie Wong - Friend
I’ve known Donna for over 40 years. Our first meeting was at SJSU Shotokan Karate club. We were participants trying to make an impression. Not sure if we succeeded in that, but I know we had tons of fun meeting new people. From there our friendship blossomed into a solid and lasting relationship. It was a honor to be in Donna and Wayne’s wedding party, and witness their children Trisha and Kenton growing up to be independent and fine standing adults. In reflection, I remember Donna as being the helpful, thoughtful and loving friend. She introduced our family to the Suzume No Gakko Japanese summer school to our children, Audrey and Tyler. Both of them got an education and exposure to Japanese language, culture, history and traditions that my husband and I wouldn’t have been able to provide for them. Another example of Donna’s kindness was taking Tyler to Easter Bible study camp one year. I know these experiences have lasting impressions on our children.
Our family was connected in many ways throughout the years. Being that Kenton was the older musician student, he was hired to be Tyler’s music tutor. Wayne and Donna were active at Milpitas High School music program. Brent and I followed their example, and became involved in the MHS music program. Last year was our first year to join the Kuwada entourage to Scottsdale for the Giants Spring Training. New friendships were made with their numerous friends, and fond baseball memories will be forever remembered. Donna and Wayne were always instrumental in getting friends and family together and having fun events happening. She was always somewhere steering the parade from the front , the back, or behind the stage. Her presence was always apparent. I will miss Donna’s exuberant smile and her kindness to virtually everyone.
Mabel Shiramizu - Friend
Besides being energetic, cheerful, hard-working and generous, Donna always had empathy and concern for others. She freely gave of herself to help and support family, students, and friends. I especially noticed this fine quality over the last few years when she was struggling with her own health issues. Minimizing her personal medical concerns, Donna would reach out to others, listening to problems and offering comfort. Thank you Donna.
While I was principal, Donna Kuwada was a staff member at Sierramont Middle School. Donna was a positive person that rubbed off on our staff. She was always willing to help out and do what was right for her students first! One short story I can relate to was when we had to do what was called the “master schedule” where the entire staff, teaches certain subjects for the following school year. I would make contact with Donna and tell her that she would be teaching the subject area which she enjoyed. That subject was English as a Second Language for our English Learners. Donna would smile and say to me, “Thank you Thank you Thank you! I said, Donna, you work wonders with our English Learners and you need to thank yourself for doing a great job! As I reflect, Donna was a caring, passionate, and a great individual. I know you probably heard this before but “mediocre teachers tells and explains”. Donna was a superior teacher and inspired her students.
Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.