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Lily and Thomas Shuichi Teraji photograph collection

Identifier: 2012.002

Scope and Contents

Collection contains two color photographs from the 1979 Fuji Festival and seventeen color photographs of the Keiro Nursing Home Groundbreaking Ceremony (1990).


  • 1979
  • 1990

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Shuichi Teraji (May 16, 1919-February 14, 2008) was born in Los Angeles, California, to Shina and Tentaro Takigawa. Tentaro died shortly before he was born, leaving Shina to raise seven children on her own. Three of the children were placed into an orphanage following Tentaro's death and Tom followed the others once he was old enough. All stayed there until their mother married a man by the name of Densuke Teraji. After a six year separation, the family was reunited and the four youngest children assumed the Teraji surname.

On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States entered into World War II. Shortly thereafter, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the United States Executive Order 9066 which led to the forced evacuations of Japanese Americans and ethnic Japanese people from designated “military zones” located mostly along the West Coast. At the time, Thomas was serving as the Los Angeles Unified School District Playground Director. When it became clear that the evacuation order would affect him and his family, he volunteered to help set up the Manzanar Relocation Center in California where he later served as its Director of Recreation.

In 1943, the War Relocation Authority granted Tom permission to leave camp to take a job with the YMCA in Chicago. He eventually earned his bachelors and a master degree in Group Work Education while in Chicago. In 1945, Tom and others started the Chicago Resettlers Committee (CRC), whose mission was to help those who were leaving the relocation camps find jobs and housing. This organization later became the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC). He also started the 10 O'clock League, a basketball league for Japanese Americans, at the Olivet Institute. Tom founded the Chicago Nisei Sports Association, which later became the Chicago Nisei Athletic Association. This association provided the Japanese American community with an opportunity to participate in organized sports. In 1946, he married Lily Ozaki, a member of his bowling league.

From 1950 to 1952, Thomas worked as a civilian employee for the Department of Defense during the Korean War. In 1952, he obtained a job teaching physical education for the Chicago Board of Education. For 36 years, Thomas worked for Chicago Public Schools in a variety of roles including as an educator, vice-principal, administrator and director. In addition to his professional achievements, Thomas was an active volunteer, committee member and/or board member at many local organizations including the Japanese American Service Committee, the Chicago Japanese American Council, United Way, Buddhist of Temple Chicago and the Village of Morton Grove. Thomas received countless awards for his service to the Japanese American community and the city of Chicago – of note are his Silver Beaver award from the Boy Scouts of America and his Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays award from the government of Japan. Tom was involved in the planning and construction of Heiwa Terrace, a senior citizens home built by the JASC. He served as Chairman from 1976-1989. Later he was also appointed Chairman of the Keiro Nursing Home Committee from 1984-1991.

Lily Ozaki Teraji was born in Los Angeles, California, on September 28, 1923. Her parents ran a dry goods store in Little Tokyo and had six children altogether. During WWII, the Ozaki family was first sent to Santa Anita Assembly Center and then to Jerome Relocation Center in Arkansas. Lily was at Compton Community College at the time. In 1943, the War Relocation Authority allowed Lily to leave camp to take a job as a housemaid and nanny in Chicago. She left this job after six months and went to work as a secretary for the American Friends Service Committee. After marrying Thomas, Lily had four children and became a stay-at-home mother for a number of years. When the children grew older, she went back to work as a secretary.

Source: Teraji, Thomas Shuichi


1 folders

Language of Materials



Stacks 02 Column 08 Shelf D (housed with Box 2, Tanakatsubo material)

Lily and Thomas Shuichi Teraji photograph collection
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the JASC Legacy Center Repository

4427 N Clark St.
Chicago IL 60640 United States
1 (773) 275-0097