School 14

Kazuko (Sasaki) Smith

October 1, 1926 ~ October 7, 2020 (age 94)


Kazuko Smith died peacefully on October 7, 2020 in Taughannock House at Kendal at Ithaca. She was 94. Born in Osaka, Japan, on April 1, 1926, Kazu lived most of her life in Ithaca after marrying Robert J. Smith in 1955. She joined a remarkable group of Japanese language teachers at Cornell University where she taught for decades until her retirement in 1991. She later won the 1996 Hiromi Arisawa Awards for her translation of Makiko’s Diary: A Merchant Wife in 1910 Kyoto, a popular text in college courses across the country. Kazu’s quiet dignity, full heart, and way of making everything beautiful created a warm and welcoming ambience for her and Bob’s colleagues and students, and for their wide-ranging family of loving friends. Kazu was one of three daughters born to Yoshio and Sato Sasaki, and the only sibling to make her home outside of Japan. Her elder sister Kyoko Mukaida predeceased her in 2009, leaving her son Ryu Mukaida (Yasuko) of Chiba City, Japan. Her younger sister Junko Sasaki lives in Osaka. Kazu’s beloved husband Bob died in October 2016. Arrangements are entrusted to Ness-Sibley Funeral Home, Trumansburg, and burial will be at East Lawn Cemetery in Ithaca. Kazu’s family and friends want to thank the staff of the nursing unit at Kendal for their compassionate care and efforts to facilitate visits during this pandemic. For those who would like to remember Kazu with a donation, please consider Cornell University Library, Kazuko and Robert J. Smith Purchase Fund.  

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