Shoko Okuyama Stanley

Obit Photo 12

Shoko Okuyama Stanley passed away at the age of 95 on the evening of November 3, 2022 at Baylor Scott and White-Hillcrest in Waco TX after a short stay in hospice. Her precious and long life will be celebrated at a later date and location to be determined by her family.  Shoko had lived at Brookdale Lake Brazos in Waco since the fall of 2013 where she enjoyed loving care and friendship. Shoko was baptized in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), joined the Episcopal Church briefly, and then became a United Methodist in 1985. She has been a member of Lake Shore United Methodist Church since 2017.

Shoko was the fourth of five children born to Ryou and Eizo Okuyama on March 14, 1927 in Akita City, Japan. Her given name at birth was Akiko Okuyama but was called Shoko for being born with the reign of the new Emperor Shōwa. Her parents preceded her in death as did her sister, Yoko, and brothers Jun, Ko, and Yutaka.  She grew up in a progressive family that valued higher education, music studies, and an intense appreciation for their Japanese history and culture.  After WWII and having completed her schooling, Shoko left a job with a magazine publisher in Akita with the blessings of her father to move to Tokyo to work at Johnson Air Force Base for American military families. During this time of Occupied Japan, Shoko grew to love the American way of life and particularly one Army Air Corp radio operator named Ernest Stanley from Tennessee.  Shoko married Ernest and their son, John, was born in Tokyo.

When Ernest reenlisted with the Air Force and was sent to the Korean Conflict, Shoko, pregnant with her second child and accompanied by her toddler John, traveled by ship across the Pacific to the US and moved into a house next to her in-laws in Crossville, TN. There, she impressed her American family and friends with her cooking and sewing skills.  Sons Jeff and Jimmy were born. When Ernest left the military and began training with the FAA to be an air traffic controller, work sent them to Dyersburg, TN where daughter June was born. San Antonio, TX became the Stanley family’s home in 1957 when Ernest started work at the San Antonio International Airport. Shoko spent the next 15 years being a homemaker, a school room mother, meticulous housekeeper, creative cook, and a seamstress with professional skill.  She studied for her citizenship, made a perfect score on the test, and proudly took the oath to become a naturalized American citizen on Citizenship day, September 17, 1969. Once she became a citizen, she was able to travel back to Japan for a visit with her family.

From 1972 to 2003, Shoko was a fitter and alterations specialist for Julian Gold in San Antonio.  In addition to her full time work fitting women in designer couture, she made house calls to fit clothing for an appreciative and generous clientele. During her career with Julian Gold, she learned to drive, learned to mow the yard, and took more time to travel the US and Japan.

Shoko was preceded in death by her parents and siblings in Japan, her son Jeff Stanley, her first husband Ernest Stanley, and second husband Fred Reynolds.  She is survived by son John Stanley and  wife Marty, son Jim Stanley and wife Cassie, daughter June Campbell and husband Paul; grandchildren, Dylan Stanley and wife Crystal, Krystal Murphy and husband Alan, Shawn Stanley, Lauren Stanley, Colin Campbell and wife Kylie; and great-grandchildren Finn, Rainn, Rowan, Amelia, Oliver, and Norah.

The family would like to thank the BSW Hillcrest Hospice RN Jenny Hilkemann and her team of nurses, Lake Shore UMC Pastor Carl Freeto, Brookdale Lake Brazos Director Samantha Luke, Parkview Member Care Chaplain Tom Lene, Hillcrest Chaplain Tim, Hillcrest 4th floor nurses and techs, and Brookdale Lake Brazos saints-Amber, Misty, Hope, Leah, Pete, and many resident friends. Donations in memory of Shoko may be sent to Lake Shore United Methodist Church or the Methodist Children’s Home.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Tony and Elena DeMaria

    Our deepest condolences to the family.

  2. Kim and I are so sorry for your loss. Soko was an amazing woman. We love y’all. Peter Martin

  3. What a beautiful life she had! I am so sorry for this great loss to your family. Lifting you all up in prayer for God to comfort you, strengthen you, and bring you peace.

  4. Catherine Friedel Johnson

    Thank you for sharing her amazing life. She must have been a strong woman. I am sorry for you and your family’s loss.

  5. I’m so sad to hear the passing of Ms Shoko.. she was the funniest, sweetest person ever. I’m glad I had the opportunity to care for her at brookdale. I asked her one day how old she was and she told me and then she said the reason she lived so long was food( lol).. so imma hold her to that imma miss seeing u in the halls and saying ur name long and slow and to see u smile. Sleep well my dear brookdale will miss ur presence for sure.

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