James Shigaki

  • Born: December 5, 1933
  • Died: January 27, 2022
  • Location: North Wales, Pennsylvania

Swartz-Givnish Funeral Home, Inc.

323 East Washington Avenue
Newtown, PA 18940

Tel. (215) 968-3891

Tribute & Message From The Family

James Martin Kondo Shigaki
Jim Shigaki, was born December 5, 1933 (the day of the repeal of Prohibition), in New York City, NY. His father, Motoki Shigaki, who was born in Kumamoto-ken, Japan, followed his father (Gotaro Shigaki) and brother (George Shigaki) and immigrated to the United States. While Gotaro and George settled in Hawaii and later moved to Seattle, Motoki settled in New York City. His father was, by profession, a watchmaker and jeweler. He was a member of the New York Buddhist Church and was a respected kyudo (archery) Sensei at the Buddhist Temple.
His mother, Elizabeth Yourn Shigaki (nee Penn), was born in Mays Landing, New Jersey on March 21, 1895 and died 2/16/1978. Young "Jimmie" lived with his mother in New York City after his parent's separation around the time the United States entered WWII. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor and Executive Order 9066 (issued by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1942 authorizing the internment of Americans of Japanese heritage), some of Jim's west coast relatives were forced to relocate to internment camps. Jim's mother's bank accounts were frozen and Jim recalls that during this timeframe, the FBI raided his home several times. In 1985, Jim requested all records pertaining to his father as relating to the FBI's surveillance and was informed that there were no records involving his father.
James held exceptionally fond memories of his participation as a teenager at Camp Berwick, Dyer Island, Maine, which continues to accept boys to this day. The Camp Berwick webpage notes that "pretty much everything on the island has been built by the boys as part of their summer program since its founding." Jim's album has many pages of photos of himself and his peers building structures.
Jim served two tours honorably in the US Army in the 1950s. He attended US Army Signal School in Georgia where he was trained in radar and radio repair. He served in the 232nd Signal Company in Ft. Huachuca, Arizona as a high-speed radio operator. In 1958, he participated in Operation Hardtack, a multidivisional (military, civilian, DoD and the Atomic Energy Commission) collaborative operation that conducted 35 nuclear tests at the Pacific Proving Grounds. At the time of testing, the Operation Hardtack I test series included more nuclear detonations than the total of all prior nuclear explosions in the Pacific Ocean. Jim went on to serve several tours as a reservist in the US Navy from which he was honorably discharged in 1992.
As a civilian, Jim used his radio and radar repair skills working for a few years with Philco, and then for most of his career in the Navy Civil Service at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. He retired in 1994, shortly before it closed. As a retiree, Jim dedicated time and service to numerous Veterans Memorial events. He also had a passion for the preservation of Philadelphia's historical cobblestone roads. In the mid-1980s, Jim took a trip to reconnect with family members in Seattle and remained in contact for the remainder of his life.

Jim is preceded in death by his wife, Mary Catherine Shigaki (nee Fletcher). He is survived by his daughter, Leslie Elizabeth Shigaki and her children, Rory James Shigaki and Liza Rose Shigaki. He also is survived by his daughter Cheryl Lynn Shigaki and her children, Maura Anne Hull and Daniel Martin Hull.
Jim is also survived by Margaret Henderson, his partner of over 40 years and her children, Steven Henderson, Margaret Denofa, Robert Henderson and Theresa Kreutzer.
Relatives and friends are invited to Jim's Life Celebration on Saturday, February 19 from 10:30 to 11 AM and to his funeral service at 11 AM at the Swartz Givnish Funeral Home, 323 Washington Ave, Newtown, PA. Interment with Navy Honors will be held at Rosedale Memorial Park, Richlieu Rd. Bensalem PA. Memorial contribution in Jim's name may be made to Berwick Boys Foundation, 335 West Street, West Bridgewater, MA. 02379, Berwick.org, a 501 © 3 organization


Condolence & Memory Journal

Great man. Gentle and kind. Glad I had the opportunity to meet him and Margie

Posted by Joan Kelly - Friend   February 12, 2022

I'm so sorry for the loss of this awesome man. He will truly be missed by many. May his soul rest into eternal peace He was a star in many eyes and now he is one in outback Heaven ♥ Rest In Peace Jim!

Posted by Jasmine Velazquez - Philadelphia, PA - Family Friend   February 08, 2022

Family Album