Celebrating the life of Helen N. Yamamoto
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Helen Noriko Yamamoto, formerly of Newtown, Pennsylvania, and more recently of Voorhees, New Jersey, died peacefully at the home of her son, Winsor Yamamoto (Lynda) in Cherry Hill on March 4, 2017. She was in the company of Winsor and his family at the time of her passing. She was 88. Helen is predeceased by Ayao “Al” Yamamoto, her beloved husband of fifty-seven years, who passed away in 2004.
Helen was born in Vacaville, California, on November 2, 1928. She was the youngest of five children of Japanese immigrants Kanesuke and Lily Nakatani. At the age of 13, Helen’s family members, like thousands of other Japanese-Americans, were removed from their modest home and interned at Gila River, Arizona, shortly after the attack at Pearl Harbor. Helen attended high school while in the internment camp, where all seven of her family members slept in a one-room unit of a barracks building. In the same building, another family of seven included Helen’s future husband, Al. He was the oldest of five children, and three years her senior.
After spending about three years in the internment camp, Al served in the Japanese-American 442nd infantry battalion, which fought in Europe. Helen returned to California to finish high school. Al was stationed in San Francisco after the war ended, and he and Helen were married in 1947. The newlyweds traveled east to join Al’s family, then working in the farming industry in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Eventually, the Yamamotos owned more than a hundred acres in Newtown, including a large produce store on Washington-Crossing Road. Helen worked the farm with her husband’s family for over fifty years, transplanting and tending hundreds of thousands of annuals and perennials that were sold at the store. Al and Helen enjoyed many rich and long-lasting relationships with community members, customers and business owners, and participated for years in the local Rotary.
Helen and Al had four children, all of whom attended Council Rock schools before attending college. Susanne Yamamoto now lives in Norristown, Pennsylvania. John Garman (Linda Garman, nee Yamamoto, deceased 2014) continues to live and work in Newtown. Karen Kramer, nee Yamamoto (Lou Haille), lives in Philadelphia, and Winsor Yamamoto (Lynda) lives in Cherry Hill, NJ. Helen is survived by Al’s siblings Tetsuo Yamamoto (Hiroko) of Richmond, Va., and Shinobu Asano (nee Yamamoto) of Princeton, NJ. Helen was the beloved grandmother of Trevor Carenzo of San Diego, Rachel Carenzo of Norriton, Pa., Brad Garman (Farhana) of Braintree, Mass., Russell Garman (Briana) of Manhattan, Keli Bosack, nee Garman (Michael) of Moseley, Va., Rebecca Kramer of Florida, Alex Kramer of Philadelphia, Joan Olson Bertone (Kyle) of Hershey, Pa., and Lia Yamamoto and Kolbi Yamamoto of Cherry Hill, as well as numerous nieces and nephews, and thirteen great-grandchildren.
Helen and Al enjoyed many hunting and fishing trips with friends and family. Together they traveled across the continent, including to Alaska, Canada, Montana, and the Outer Banks. Helen visited Japan for the first time in 2007 with her son, Winsor, and dear friends, Dr. Noboru Nishitani and his wife, Judy, formerly of Mercer County. Helen and Al also enjoyed playing cards with friends, and hosting regular family gatherings at the farm. Her memory will be cherished by many.
A gathering of friends and family will be held at Schetter’s Funeral Home in Cherry Hill on Friday, March 10, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Interment will be Saturday, March 11, at 10:00 a.m. in the Newtown Cemetery, Washington Avenue, Newtown, PA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Samaritan Hospice, 5 Eves Drive, Suite 300, Marlton, NJ (website: samaritannj.org).
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304 West Marlton Pike
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
Newtown,, PA 18940
Newtown,, PA 18940