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Treasure Valley mourns the passing of Mitsuko Murakami

by Lora Abcarian | August 20, 2009
Mitsuko Murakami, the wife of Murakami Produce Co. founder Shigeo (Sig) Murakami, died Aug. 11 at Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, ID. She was 88.

Ms. Murakami, known to her friends as Mitzi, worked with her husband to build one of the more respected onion-producing companies in Idaho- Eastern Oregon's Treasure Valley.

Ms. Murakami was born in Bellevue, WA, and married her husband in 1940. The Murakamis, who moved to Los Angeles following their marriage, chose to relocate to Ontario, OR, after the outbreak of World War II rather than be placed in an internment camp. They worked as farm laborers, eventually founding Murakami Produce. The couple was married for 62 two years.

A devoted mother and business partner, Ms. Murakami was actively involved in civic life in Ontario as a member of both the Snake River Japanese American Citizens League and the Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple. She enjoyed her volunteer activities with the Mary Kay School and her church, and she bowled on the Nisei Ladies Bowling Team. Ms. Murakami was an avid gardener and was a member of the Ontario Garden Club. She also enjoyed cooking and traveling.

The Murakamis were responsible for creating several educational scholarship programs in the Treasure Valley. Following her husband's death in 2002, Ms. Murakami established the Murakami Family Fund, which benefited a number of community organizations in Malheur County.

Ms. Murakami is survived by her son David Murakami of Ontario; daughters Janis Cornmesser and Eileen Gonzales of Ontario; grandchildren Jeremy Cornmesser of Kuna, ID, Kim Bean of Mountain Home, ID, Anna, Alana, Brooke and Britney Mulvaney of Ontario; great grandchildren Tony and Kasey Gillis of Boise, Jake and Hailey Cornmesser of Kuna, Heather Carter of Kuna, Ashlee and Bobbi Brain of Kuna; and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

A family viewing was scheduled for Friday, Aug. 21 at the Shaffer-Jensen Memorial Chapel in Payette, ID. Funeral services were to be held Saturday, Aug. 22, at the Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple in Ontario, OR, with burial following the service at the Evergreen Cemetery in Ontario.

Condolences may be sent to the family at Donations to any charitable organization in Ms. Murakami's memory can be made care of Shaffer-Jensen Memorial Chapel, P.O. Box 730, Payette, ID.