Celebrating Helen Yamada

June 16, 1926 - November 21, 2018

On June 16, 1926, Sojuro and Yasuno Saisho welcomed their child, Helen Haruye, into this world. She was the sixth of eight siblings. Helen grew up on a farm and attended school in Lomita until the United States entered World War II in 1941. Her family was relocated to the Santa Anita Assembly Center in California, then to the Jerome Internment Camp in Arkansas, and finally to the Tule Lake Internment Camp in California.

After the war, Helen moved with her dear sister, Masako, to work as a domestic for actress Gloria Stewart and as a part-time seamstress. She then became a live-in nanny, where she learned more about American foods and culture from the children’s mother. She catered small dinner parties in the Hollywood and Beverly Hills neighborhoods, and spent much of her working life as a chauffeur and personal assistant for Nell Davey.

Helen met her husband, Roy Minoru Yamada, and in 1955 they married in Las Vegas. They bought a home on Gilmore Avenue where they lived for 51 years.

Helen and Roy had two children, Lynn and Alan, and the family enjoyed taking small vacations to Big Bear Lake. Helen’s greatest joy in life was her five grandchildren: Aimee, David, Haley, Aidan, and Alana. During those years her house was filled with toys, drawing materials, food, and love.

There were many things that Helen enjoyed. She loved cooking, entertaining, driving, growing plants, laughing, eating candy, spoiling her family, and serving others. She supported various community organizations such as Roy’s company of the 442ndRegimental Combat Team.

After Roy’s death in 2006, Helen moved to a Diamond Bar senior apartment, met many new friends, and took up mahjong and crafts. She then moved to the Brea Brookdale Assisted Living Community in 2014. She loved her time there and took part in a variety of games and crafts, socialized with other residents, and helped the staff. Helen also took pleasure in going out to eat, talking with visitors, and calling friends on the phone.

Taking pleasure in life to the end, Helen left our world to be with her husband on November 21, 2018.


YAMADA, HELEN HARUYE (92), passed away on November 21, 2018 in Fullerton. She is survived by her children, Lynn Otsu and Alan Yamada; grandchildren, Aimee and David Otsu, Haley, Aidan and Alana Yamada; also survived by many nieces, nephews, and other relatives.

A private funeral service was held on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at the graveside of Rose Hills Memorial Park with Rev. Nobuko Miyoshi from Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple officiating. The family requests for koden to be omitted.