Grace Aiko Nakamura

Sister of automotive designer Larry Shinoda

Always drawing Larry designing chairs in the camp Larry’s fishing skill Mother’s reaction to Larry's daredevil racing Larry and President Clinton Corvette Hall of Fame

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Grace Aiko (Shinoda) Nakamura was 15 years old when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. On May 16, 1942, her family of seven boarded a train at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and was sent to the Manzanar concentration camp in California.

In Manzanar, Grace’s younger brother Larry designed for his mother and grandmother two chairs made from recycled wooden toilet crates—complete with arm rests and reclining backs. They became a camp “sensation” attracting many admiring spectators. Larry later became a world-renowned designer whose designs for the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray and the Boss 429 Mustang remain highly admired.

In spring of 1944 Grace, Larry and their mother left Manzanar on a bus and moved to Grand Junction, Colorado. The Quakers American Friends Service Japanese American Student Relocation Project awarded Grace a scholarship to the University of Redlands and she became the first Japanese American college student to return to California, graduating with Honors. The day after graduating, she started a teaching career in the Pasadena School District--the first Japanese American hired. She eventually earned two Masters Degrees and continued a career in education and fine arts. She is married to Yosh Nakamura, a college professor of art, and has three children. (September 2012)

arts drawing camps crafts Larry Shinoda fishing manzanar Daredevil racing automobile Mustang President Clinton Corvette Hall of Fame

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