School 09

Chisato Kitagawa

July 29, 1932 ~ January 14, 2022 (age 89)

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The Rev. Dr. Chisato Kitagawa

Seattle, WA

On January 14, Chisato Kitagawa peacefully completed what he called his Homecoming. Chisato was born in Tokyo on July 29, 1932 to Chiaki and Sumi (Ishii) Kitagawa. After attending Rikkyo University, he emigrated to the United States in 1958 and earned a Master's in Linguistics from the University of Michigan in 1961.

During this time he met Mary Messinger. They married June 17, 1961, and Kristen Sumi and Jeffrey Chiaki were born in '65 and '67. Chisato was the grandson of the Reverend Chiyokichi Kitagawa, an early Christian priest in Japan, and the nephew of the Reverend Daisuke Kitagawa and the Reverend Joseph Kitagawa who emigrated to America just before World War II. He, too, had felt drawn to the study of theology. He attended Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, MA, was ordained in 1964 and served as curate in Grace Church, Amherst until 1967.

In 1972, Chisato completed his doctorate in Linguistics from the University of Michigan. He embarked on a career in teaching and scholarship, first at the University of Massachusetts, where he helped to establish programs in Japanese and Asian Studies, and later at the University of Arizona, where he taught from 1976-1989. In addition to his publications about linguistics, Chisato co-authored a book with Mary on seikatsu tsuzurikata, a grassroots writing education movement in Japan that had not previously been introduced to the rest of the world. He returned to Amherst and completed his teaching career at UMass before retiring in 2002.  

Chisato considered academic work his profession but priesthood his vocation. He served parishes in Massachusetts and Arizona and as vicar of Holy Cross in Saline, Michigan. He especially loved his association with the beloved community of All Saints in South Hadley. He and Mary moved to Seattle in 2021. Many friends will remember him for being an avid sci-fi fan and stubborn foodie, who also had a quirky sense of humor.

Chisato is survived by siblings Yukiko Ito, Makiko Kitagawa and Kimiko Kitagawa in Japan, his wife  Mary Kitagawa, daughter Kristen (Cameron) Caughlan, Jeffrey (Cristina McCabe) Kitagawa, son-in-law Cameron Caughlan, and grandchildren Connor (Danielle Titus) Caughlan, Yuji Caughlan, Elisa Caughlan and Jocelyn Caughlan. A private service will be held at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Seattle. In lieu of flowers, those who choose to are encouraged to donate to their favorite charity.


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