American Fork, UT

A Prominent Utah Woman Passed Away at the Age of 110

S. F. Mori

Mary Kawakami was a resident of American Fork, Utah
FlowersPhoto byLaura CroweonUnsplash

Although she loved flowers, the family of Mary Kawakami requested that people donate to a favorite charity or cause in behalf of Mary instead of purchasing flowers. She was always giving service to others throughout her 110 years on this earth.

Mary Waki Kawakami was born on December 12, 1912, in Fort Lupton, Colorado. She was the oldest of four children born to Japanese parents. After her mother passed away when she was eleven years old, her father remarried so she gained other siblings.

After Mary was married to Charles Shigeyoshi Kawakami on November 29, 1935, they lived in Spring Canyon, Utah, before moving to American Fork, Utah. Mary became a well-known citizen of American Fork, Utah County, and the State of Utah. She was active in business and government issues.

Mary was the owner of Mary's College of Beauty, a popular cosmetology school in Provo. She was a world-renowned hairstylist and traveled throughout the United States and Japan teaching her techniques. She received many awards and authored several books.

She continuously served others throughout her life. She served on the Bicentennial Commission Committee for the City of Provo. She served on the American Fork Arts Council. She voted throughout her life and was awarded a plaque declaring her as Utah's oldest voter in 2016 by then Governor Gary Herbert.

Mary became a devoted member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in her later years. She was a beloved member of her church congregation. She was also a member of The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) for many years along with many other civic and volunteer associations.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Charlie, and daughter, Marilyn, and other family members. She is survived by her two sons and one daughter, Ben, Paul, and Smiley, along with her grandchildren and great grandchildren, and three sisters. She was buried in American Fork next to her husband Charlie to whom she had been married for 68 years.

As service was such a big part of Mary's life, the family requested that friends could honor her life by donating to a favorite charity or reaching out to someone in an act of kindness or service.

Mary Kawakami was a truly exemplary woman. She will be greatly missed.


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I am a retired President/CEO of civil rights organizations. I have been a Mayor and California State Assemblyman as well as a College Instructor of Economics. I have also been an entrepreneur and international business consultant. I will be sharing articles mostly about life, politics, racism, travel, health, and relationships.

Salt Lake City, UT

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