Submitted by Susanna Han
Yoko Onaka (nee Aoyama) was born on October 24, 1946, in Tokyo, Japan, attended schools and graduated from Keio University in 1969. She worked in the office of Kenzo Tange, Architect, where she met and married Jun Onaka in 1974. She moved with Jun to Atlanta, GA, in 1975, then to Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, PA, and in 1983 settled in San Diego. She gave birth to Teisuke in Santa Monica, CA, and to Ryosuke in Pittsburgh, PA. She died on July 3, 2018, of complications from metastatic kidney cancer.
She began playing the violin as a child and was a member of the Keio University Orchestra. Later she attended San Diego State University, obtained a certificate in the teaching of Suzuki Method, taught violin to children and young adults for 27 years until a few weeks before her death. She was committed to teaching the basics of violin playing, including proper posture, tonality, and rhythm. Many of her students went on to continue their violin education in San Diego and elsewhere. Over the years she continued her music education, taking courses in piano, music theory, and opera appreciation. Yoko was also interested in flower arrangement and the visual arts. Visiting art museums was a favorite activity when traveling abroad with her family.
Yoko was blessed with many friends everywhere she lived, particularly in San Diego. She was active in the Keio University alumni association of San Diego and helped celebrate its 50-year history. During more than a year of battling cancer, she was sincerely grateful for the abundant emotional and physical support she received from her friends.
Yoko Onaka was a vibrant and vital part of the Suzuki Music Association of California – San Diego Branch. For many years, she dedicated her time to help review graduation recordings. Her comments were always honest, helpful and from the heart. She also collaborated on several occasions with other local Suzuki teachers in GALA fundraising concerts. The effects of her charisma will remain with us here at SMAC-SDB always. (Yoko is pictured above with her student, Robert (Bob) Helmuth.)
Contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to: The San Diego Foundation for Creative Catalyst Fund, 2508 Historic Decatur Road, Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92106; Memo: Yoko Onaka.
Yoko is survived by husband Jun, son Teisuke, daughter-in-law Meera, son Ryosuke, daughter-in-law Misato, and grandson Jyn.