Mary Yayoi Shigeta Tipton, 96, passed away peacefully with family at her side, on Friday, February 5, 2021, at Hillcrest Home in Harrison, AR, of natural causes, non-COVID related. She was born March 8, 1924, in South Port Mann, British Columbia, Canada, to Hitoshi and Mikiye (Hirayama) Shigeta.
She graduated eighth grade from Simon Cunningham Public School in New Westminster, B.C., shortly before her family immigrated back to Japan in 1940.
She met Sgt. John Verner Tipton while working as an interpreter for the U.S. Army. They married on October 18, 1951, in Kobe, Japan, and celebrated 40 years of marriage before his death in 1991. Mary lived most of her life in Waldo and Ozark, AR, and Sugar Land, TX. She traveled widely as a service member's spouse.
She was active in United Methodist Women (South Central Jurisdictional Core Planning Committee, Texas and Arkansas Conferences for UMW Committees, and Language Coordinator for UMW), Pilot Club (past president, Magnolia), the Red Hat Society, Ozark Foothills Little Theater, and several Japanese associations (JACL, JASH, JAGH). Her volunteering activity was legion, earning her the honor of March 9, 2003, designated as Mary Tipton Day in Ozark. She was also selected as an Arkansas Volunteer of the Year.
Mary is remembered as an artist who painted everything from inspirational quotes to theater sets to children's faces. Her art is still treasured in numerous homes. Over her lifetime, she was a member of Memorial Baptist Church of Waldo, AR, First United Methodist Church of Ozark, AR, and First United Methodist Church of Missouri City, TX. In later years, she was welcomed as a frequent visitor to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Harrison, AR.
She is survived by her daughters, Kimiye Tipton (Gordon Ford) of Winter Springs, FL, Wanda Mendicino and Dianne Beard (the late Mike Beard) of Harrison; grandchildren Benjamin Tiptonford, Hannah Mendicino and Samuel A. Mendicino; sisters Shinobu Iiboshi, Mei Kurogi, Masumi Shigeta, and Fusae Takarada of Japan; and many nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews, cousins and in-laws in Japan and the U.S.
In addition to her parents and husband, she was predeceased by four sisters: Reiko and Clara Shigeta, Mutsumi Komatsubara, and Janet Hitome Abe; and two brothers, Paul Kazuyuki and Frank Nobuyuki Shigeta.
The family would like to thank the staff and volunteers at Hillcrest Home for their loving care for the last three years.
Mary's ashes will be interred at Highland Cemetery, Ozark, AR, at a date to be determined. A memorial celebration is planned for later this year. Memorial donations may be made to United Methodist Women World Thank Offering, (https://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/worldthank), or mailed to United Methodist Women, 475 Riverside Drive, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10115, with “World Thank Offering” on the memo line.
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