Mary Adams Urashima, advocate of Historic Wintersburg, passes away at 62

Mary Adams Urashima Image courtesy of Discover Nikkei

Mary Adams Urashima, one of the most influential people in the movement to preserve the Historic Wintersburg Japanese American settlement land in Huntington Beach, passed away at 62 due to cancer.

Mary Adams Urashima, Advocate, Preservationist of Historic Wintersburg

Mary Adams Urashima was known for several things, including her author, historian, and preservationist work. However, she was most well known for her campaign on behalf of Historic Wintersburg, a Japanese American settlement situated on 4.5 acres and can be found near the intersection of Warner Avenue and Nichols Lane in Huntington Beach. 

Ocean View School District Board of Trustees President Gina Clayton-Tarvin said that Urashima laid a lot of the basis for others to learn that the Historic Wintersburg is, in fact, a historically significant site.

Clayton-Tarvin also stated that she was responsible for all the legal work needed with the national, state, and county organizations to ensure that the location was eligible for designation as a National Historic Place.

According to the Los Angeles Times, as a pro bono attorney who collaborated with Urashima to protect Wintersburg, Ernie Nishii had a good working relationship with her.

Urashima was also quite active online with a blog about Wintersburg and on Twitter. According to him, he provided her with advice when she was being harassed online by people who wanted to see the site rezoned.

Nishii said that Urashima’s perspective was that Historic Wintersburg was an important piece of Huntington Beach's past; yet, for someone to be part of the past, they must also be involved in the present.

Mark Bixby, a former Huntington Beach Planning Commissioner who manages the Surf City Sentinel page on Facebook, stated that Mary Adams Urashima's son, Keane, will carry on her legacy once she has passed away. 

The arrangements for the memorial service have not been disclosed.

For Bixby, because the events that took place so many decades ago are still very relevant to what is going on in America today, Mary Adams Urashima never lost sight of the ultimate goal of achieving preservation.

Bixby added that Urashima had a lifelong interest in seeing that kept for the benefit of future generations because she believes it is a history worth sharing.

About Historic Wintersburg

Three generations of Japanese Americans are represented in Historic Wintersburg, from the time of immigration in the late 19th century through reintegration after World War II incarceration.

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, one of the oldest Japanese missions in Southern California is located on this 4.5-acre piece of historical land. 

Historical Wintersburg is one of the few remaining Japanese American properties acquired before the implementation of California's anti-immigrant property laws in 1913 and 1920. Its prominence coincides with that of Orange County as a major agricultural and economic powerhouse.

During World War II, all Japanese Americans in Orange County and everyone with ties to the Furuta farm or the Wintersburg mission were forced into internment camps. 

Many immigrant communities today are still fighting for social justice, and this landmark serves as a reminder of the nation's civil rights history.

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