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Demaine Funeral Home

5308 Backlick Road
Springfield, VA 22151
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Sumiko Hirakawa was born May 10,1924 in Oita-ken, located on the southern island of Kyushu, Japan. The island is mountainous, with numerous hot springs and home to Japan's most active volcano, Mt. Aso.
Sumiko is the 3rd youngest of 7 brothers and sisters. As her parents passed when she was young, after she finished 8th grade, she moved to Manchuria to live with an older sister and brother-in-law.
It was in Yokohama, Japan where she met a young Navy sailor from Iowa, Jim Byrd. They were married March 1st ,1954 and she spent the next 13 years as a military wife, moving round every few years, finally settling in Alexandria, Virginia with their three children. In those years as a military and housewife, Sumiko learned to read and write English, and studied US history. She became a citizen of the United States of America in November 1960. She also worked outside of the home for a brief period in the 1970's in data processing as a key puncher.
Throughout her adult life, she struggled with a degenerative eye disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa. By 1985, after the passing of her husband, Jim, she "let go" of what little sight was left. She learned to read and type Braille, spending hours studying. She was also able to reconnect with her family in Japan, with whom she had lost touch with for more than 30 yrs. As time went on, she became so in tuned with her "minds eye", she did not recognize herself as blind. She lived remarkably independent, cooking, cleaning, laundry, gardening and playing the piano. She was even featured in a Japanese human interest documentary about her life in the US. It was during this period that she joined the Kohaku Ensemble , hosting practices, performing around the area and generally enjoyed all the friendships she forged. She was a great cook, and equally a great gardener. Persimmon trees which she planted over 20 years ago, yielded over 800 beautiful fruit this year. Asian pear trees, fig trees and countless perennials, shrubs, vegetables and mixing soil gave her countless hours of joy for many years.

Sumiko leaves cherished memories for her three grown children, Ed Byrd(Lisa), Susan Shaw(Rob), Justin Byrd(Neena). Grandkids- Rob Shaw, Jennifer Shaw, Michael Shaw, Kelsey Byrd, Ryan Byrd. Great-grands- Frankie Shaw, Yelena Shaw and Kayleigh Smith. Sister-Akiyo Hori, beloved niece Hifumi Fujumoto(Tokio) and host of extended family members.

The family would like to express their deepest gratitude to the VITAS hospice team for their wonderful care during Mom's final journey home.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Alzheimer's Association, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, VITAS Healthcare or an organization of your choice.

Services to be held on Saturday 27, 2018 from 10:00AM to 11:00AM at Dignity Funeral Home. 5308 Backlick Road, Springfield VA, 22151.