Helen Chizu Tomita, a resident of San Mateo for nearly 90 years, passed away peacefully at home on July 8, 2020.
Helen was the daughter of the late Shinji Tomita and Kichiyo Doi Tomita. She was born in Ogden, Utah on November 13, 1926. Shortly thereafter, she moved with her family to San Mateo, where she attended Lawrence Grammar School, and spent one year at San Mateo High School. In March of 1942 she left San Mateo with her family when they self-evacuated to Pueblo, Colorado with other members of the Japanese American community during the war years. In 1944 she graduated from Manual Training High School in Denver, and later received both a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Colorado. She was then awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study painting in Japan, and, in 1955, a Rockefeller Grant to attend the International Institute for (Art) Conservation in Rome. Throughout this time Helen traveled widely in Japan, Europe, and the United States, delivering lectures at both universities and museums and conferring with fellow art experts. She also spent many hours engaged in creating original paintings of her own.
Later, Helen returned to San Mateo to attend to the needs of her widowed mother. After completing a degree at Seattle University and becoming a Registered Record Administrator, she worked at San Mateo Medical Center, Mills Hospital, and as Associate Director of Medical Records at Ralph K. Davies Medical Center.
In addition to her parents, Helen was predeceased by her brother Arthur Tomita and his wife Toni, and her sister June Tomita Kirsch and her husband Alphonse. She is survived by her niece Jeanne Allen (spouse Lee) and her great-nieces Christine and Lauren Allen, of New York, and her nephew, Dr. John Kirsch (spouse Patricia) of Charlestown, Massachusetts.
At Helen’s request, there will be a private funeral for family members. Contributions in her memory may be sent to a charity of your choice or to the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA, 1450 Rollins Road, Burlingame, CA 94010.