Obituary: Yasuko Fukada Shorrock

Teacher, musician, loving wife

Yasuko Fukada Shorrock died peacefully in the late afternoon of June 12, 2016 in the Health Services Center of Pilgrim Place. She was 88.

She was born February 24, 1928 to Tanetsugu and Shisa Fukada in a suburban town near Tokyo. Both her parents were led to the Christian faith by Toyohiko Kagawa, a Christian evangelist and social reformer. Her parents met while helping in Kagawa’s extensive rescue work following the 1923 Tokyo-Kanto Area Great Earthquake, which forever impacted the life direction of the couple.

At the age of 2, Yasuko, her brother Yoshitsugu and their mother joined her father as he was pastoring a Japanese Methodist congregation in Bakersfield, and later moved to Riverside to serve a Methodist/Congregational Union Church after Yoshitsugu’s death.

Following the birth of Yasuko’s younger brother Bob, the family moved to San Francisco, where she started her elementary education. At the age of 9 she traveled back to Japan with her family when her father was asked to take a role in Kagawa’s social and religious programs in Tokyo’s Honjo district, an economically depressed area.

Mrs. Shorrock lived through the tense and difficult war years as a student at Jiyu Gakuen in Tokyo, a unique Christian school. She then attended Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas and graduated with a major in church music. She returned to Tokyo in 1956 and for 25 years taught at the American School in Japan, a historic international school, first as a teacher’s assistant and then as a teacher for first and second grade classes until her retirement in 1987. She specialized in helping students whose native language was not English. She was an able and popular teacher and left a great impact on the children she taught. Upon hearing the news of her death, some of these graduates responded immediately, expressing great appreciation for her influence on them as they have grown to adulthood and in their professional lives.

Yasuko came to Pilgrim Place in late 2003 when, at age 75, she married widower Hallam Shorrock, age 80. They had first met 55 years previously when he taught an English Bible class at her father’s church in Tokyo. He remembered her when her brother, Bob, and his wife, Laura, were applying to enter Pilgrim Place. Yasuko had never married. An exchange of letters and pictures led to their marriage.

Suddenly her family expanded from Bob and Laura and their two sons, Ted and Allen and his wife, and two grand-nieces, to include Hallam’s family of five children and their spouses, 12 grandchildren and later three great-grandchildren. Her love and caring for this greatly expanded family, and especially for her husband Hallam, was special.

In addition to these family responsibilities, Mrs. Shorrock was a blessing to the wider community as well as to Pilgrim Place, through her Lenten organ concerts at the UCC Church, her piano playing at worship and other services and programs, and her beautiful flower arrangements, as well as her work at the annual festival in the dramas, the International Bazaar, the Petterson Museum and used clothing shop, the Emporium.

Yasuko is greatly mourned by all in her own immediate family, by her husband and his family, and by so many friends in the American and Japanese communities.

Two quotations from the scores of notes from her friends sum up her life in these words: “One of the joys of living at Pilgrim Place has been her friendship, wisdom and artistic soul.” “She brought beauty and light and grace into our lives and will always be in our hearts.”

Yasuko’s memorial service will be held on Saturday, July 23 at 3 p.m. in Decker Hall at Pilgrim Place, followed by a reception in the Napier Center.


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