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Ella Yoneko Kikuchi

Obituary for Ella Yoneko Kikuchi

October 13, 1929 - August 12, 2020
Palo Alto, California | Age 90


Ella Y. Kikuchi passed away in Palo Alto on August 12th 2020. She was 90 years old and a resident at Channing House.

Ella was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. At the age of 17, she left for Colorado State College of Education in Greeley, Colorado where she majored in English and obtained a BA. She returned home to Hawaii, earning an MA in English at the University of Hawaii and spent six years teaching there. She then took a teaching position in Chicago where she met her husband, Tom. Soon after they were married, they had a son, Derrick.

After their son was born, the couple moved to Park Forest, a suburb of Chicago. They then moved to Santa Barbara where Ella would live the next five decades of her life. While Tom was a research physicist for Delco Electronics, a division of General Motors, Ella used her teaching talents to volunteer at Derrick's elementary school where she tutored kids with learning disabilities. She also started to develop what would become a lifelong interest in stock market investing and was ahead of her time in using graphical analysis of stock data to predict stock financial performance. This being before the advent of the personal computer, most of this work was initially done through laborious manual calculation. Ella also had a passion for gardening and was a voracious reader.

Always the educator at heart she had a thirst for learning and no vacation for either Derrick or his cousins would pass by without an educational component to study wherever they were visiting.

Unfortunately, Ella's husband Tom died at the young age of 58 from cancer. Without Tom by her side and with her son now living in Palo Alto where he worked for Hewlett-Packard, Ella set about writing the next chapter in her life. She became deeply involved with Bethany Church in Santa Barbara, began teaching at and volunteering with the Braille Institute, visited and helped patients at two local hospitals, and started to travel the world. Deep friendships, a devotion to service, and fierce independence governed her next few decades.

In 2011, Ella made the last big move of her life, leaving Santa Barbara and moving to the senior community of Channing House in Palo Alto. As Ella did with any change in her life, she poured herself into the new community, volunteering to give tours to potential residents, serving on the monthly art committee, staying with residents in hospice so that no one would die alone, and her greatest joy each day was gathering with her "breakfast club," a group of friends whose rowdy banter could be heard far and wide. Ella also attended First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, the church where her son Derrick and son-in-law Craig Wiesner made their spiritual home. As would happen anywhere Ella would alight, she became a beloved fixture at Sunday services, delighting people with her laugh, warm hugs, and her incredible memory for details about the lives of the people she met as well as a deep interest in current events. Anyone who knew her would also know that her greatest gifts were her warmth, her inquisitive nature, and nearly photographic memory.

For the last two years of her life, Ella suffered a series of falls and decreasing mobility. She and her family were incredibly grateful for the care she received from the team at Channing House's Lee Center, the Skilled Nursing team, and especially thankful to her care team at Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

A virtual memorial service via Zoom took place on Monday, September 14th at 1:00pm PDT. Check the multimedia section to view the recording of the service on Youtube.

Suggested Memorial Donations

  • In lieu of flowers, please consider memorial contributions in Ella Kikuchi's name to the following organizations:
  • Second Harvest of Silicon Valley
    4001 North First Street
    San Jose, CA 95134

Arrangements By

Crosby-N. Gray & Co. - FD-96

2 Park Road
Burlingame, CA 94010
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