Home Community OBITUARY: Yuki Llewellyn, Child Face of Internment

OBITUARY: Yuki Llewellyn, Child Face of Internment

While many photos remain from the era of Japanese American internment, there are a few that are so exceptional, they appear in countless books, magazines, and films. One of these is of a little girl, sitting on luggage, en route to the camps. Today, it is the first thing that visitors view at the Manzanar Historic Site, California. Yet most of us have not known her name, what became of her, or details of the photo.

The child’s full name as an adult would be Yuki Okinaga Hayakawa Llewellyn. In Oct. 1945, the young Yuki and her single mother made their way to a new life with a host family in Cleveland, Ohio. Made fun of in school, Yuki eventually earned a Master of Fine Arts degree, married, raised a son, and became an assistant dean of students and director of registered student organizations at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Ms. Llewellyn passed away in March. Of many online obituaries, including those at the Los Angeles Times (Jul. 17), and People magazine (Jul. 18), the one at Rafu Shimpo is the most complete (June 27, Rafu.com).

The photo is at Union Station, Los Angeles, from which JA’s rode to Manzanar, in March 1942. The photographer was Clem Albers, a San Francisco Chronicle newsman who worked briefly for the War Relocation Authority to document the camps.

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David Yamaguchi has written for the NAP since 2006, at first as a volunteer, then as a paid freelancer (2016-2020),then as a staff writer/editor (2020-2023). He is presently executive director of the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington (JASSW).