Chizuru Nakaji Boyea

December 12, 1919November 21, 2021

Chizuru Nakaji Boyea (Chiz) passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, November 21st, at the age of 101. Chiz was born on December 12, 1919 in Terminal Island, a thriving fishing village in East San Pedro, CA to Sadahyaku Nakaji, a fishing fleet captain and Chiyeno (Seko), a homemaker. Chiz was the eldest sibling to Tooru (John), Ritsuko (Ritzi), Hiromichi (Hiro), and Hideyo (Hide).

Chiz attended school in East San Pedro where she learned English in kindergarten. She was a brilliant student achieving the highest national honors and an excellent musician performing piano recitals for the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music Arts. Chiz also fondly recalled attending the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

After graduating from San Pedro High School, Chiz moved to Los Angeles and attended Los Angeles City College (LACC), excelling in academics and taking fencing. After graduating from LACC, she travelled to Japan to study Japanese Literature and Calligraphy at Doshisha Women’s College in Kyoto. Although US citizens, Chiz and her family were unjustly incarcerated at Manzanar, a concentration camp located in the desolate California desert, during World War II. At Manzanar, Chiz taught students, established the library, and led the initiative to successfully place student internees at prominent colleges on the East Coast.

Chiz received her Masters of Library Science degree from Syracuse University and studied social sciences at the New School for Social Research in New York City. She also met her husband-to-be, playwright and drama critic, Samuel (Sam) A. Boyea at the New School. Chiz held prestigious librarian positions at prominent institutions including Sarah Lawrence College, New York Academy of Medicine, New York University Medical School, New York Public Library, and Consumers Union. Chiz and Sam had (and are survived by) five children, Aki Elizabeth, Sean Kenichi, Paul Hiroshi, Shivaun Mitsuye, and Bruce Saburo. Moving to California in 1958, Chiz began her 25 year career at the Long Beach Public Library and ultimately was promoted to lead the Library’s Art Department. Numerous Library patrons (especially students) have expressed appreciation for Chiz’s knowledge, resourcefulness, and encouragement.

Chiz demonstrated a passionate commitment to volunteering for community organizations including curating artwork and collections at the Long Beach Museum of Art, and serving as a choir-mother, instructing in Brass Rubbing art technique, fund raising, and arranging altar flowers at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

Chiz enjoyed international travel to destinations including Japan, Sweden, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Bermuda, Mexico, Turkey as well as throughout the United States. She became a resident of Leisure World in Seal Beach in 1992 and was an active member of St. Theodore-Canterbury Episcopal Church, the Astronomy and Garden clubs, Ceramic, Lapidary, Silver, and Exercise classes.

Chiz was a loving and caring mother, wife, mother-in-law, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, sister, and friend, who will be forever cherished. She was blessed with 14 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren, many relatives, and friends. Chiz’s strength of character, scientific and artistic brilliance, and commitment to social justice and equality advocacy, delivered with a quiet loving smile, will continue to light our way!

A private Celebration of Life service will be held (with a video recording of the service to be made available) at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you please consider a donation to the Japanese American National Museum in Memory of Chizuru Nakaji Boyea. Online donations can be made @ or checks can be mailed to:

Japanese American National Museum (JANM) Attn: Development 100 N. Central Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90012 For additional JANM donation information, please contact: or 213-830-5646


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Chizuru Nakaji Boyea

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