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TOKYO BOMBING SURVIVOR LED LONG, FULL LIFE IN U.S.

Sumiko Myers didn't sweat the small stuff. Not after surviving bombing raids that killed more than 100,000 residents in her native Tokyo.

If anything, the attacks during World War II taught her how to shrug off calamity.

Mrs. Myers later left Japan. She married a U.S. Marine and brought up a family. Cooking connected her to her roots.

Sometimes, she even invited people she barely knew into the house to cook for them.

"That made me nervous," her daughter, Diann Anderson, said.

Mrs. Myers died Wednesday. She was 84.

"When she was young, she would hear the bombs going off," said Anderson, 50. "Her father had built a shelter under the house. He would say, 'Anybody that wants to live, you'd better come with me. If you want to die, stay in the house.'"

Sumiko Kikuchi was 19 then. She worked as a telephone operator, connecting each call on a switchboard.

"When people asked her what kind of work she did in Japan, she would put on this high voice and say, 'Number, please?'" her daughter said.

Her own number might have been 16.

In the mid 1950s she met Lawson Myers, a career Marine stationed in Tokyo. They married Sept. 16, 1957, when the bride was 32 (16 doubled). The number would hold significance in her later years as well.

The couple moved from Tokyo, to Madisonville, Tenn., then to Largo in the early 1970s.

She loved to wear jewelry but was self-conscious about her nose, which she thought was too small. Her husband, who believed Mrs. Myers' nose was perfect, bought her a cashmere coat instead.

She made sweaters and afghans, and cooked a famous pork fried rice. She enjoyed cooking with her Japanese girlfriends every year for the Spiffs International Folk Fair.

Lawson Myers died in 1990. Two years later, Mrs. Myers visited Japan for the last time.

She was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 15 years ago. She moved from a home to an assisted living facility to a nursing home.

Mrs. Myers lost her appetite over the last several months, her daughter said. She said she wanted to see her husband again.

She will be buried next to him - in marker No. 16 at Moss-Feaster's Serenity Gardens in Largo. As her daughter was thumbing through a book for something to read at the funeral, she found just the right poem - on Page 16.

Her funeral will be held Wednesday the 16th - her wedding anniversary.

"Everything just happened to fall on that number," Anderson said. "It told me the time was right."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

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BIOGRAPHY

Sumiko Myers

Born: April 20, 1925.

Died: Sept. 9, 2009.

Survivors: Sons, Jerry and his wife, Kelly, and Teddy and his wife, Darlene; daughter, Diann Anderson and her husband, Billy; brother, Yoshihiro Kikuchi and his wife, Sachiko; six grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; one niece; and three nephews.

Service: Visitation 5 to 8 p.m. today, service 1 p.m. Wednesday, Moss-Feaster Funeral Home, 13401 Indian Rocks Road, Largo.

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