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Russell Kazuo Yamazaki
November 23, 1942 - January 3, 2022

Russell Kazuo Yamazaki

Russell Kazuo Yamazaki
Nov 23, 1942 - Jan 3, 2022

Russell Kazuo Yamazaki
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Russell Kazuo Yamazaki died peacefully from gastrointestinal cancer on January 3 in the presence of his wife Jane Yamazaki. He was a 43-year resident of Grosse Pointe Park, MI as well as a summer resident of Leland, MI for 22-years.

Russell was born on November 23, 1942 at Topaz, Utah, an internment camp for Japanese-American citizens. He attended public schools in Wooster, Ohio through high school where he received numerous scholastic achievement awards. He entered the College of Wooster where he graduated in 1964 with a BA degree in Chemistry. He then attended Michigan State University where he received his PhD in Biochemistry in 1969. His thesis research helped provide the basis for understanding the role of peroxisomes, membrane-bound components of leaf cells, in aiding photosynthesis in plants.

Aiter graduating from Michigan State, Russell carried out postdoctoral research in biochemistry at Case-Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH and then moved to the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. He moved to Detroit to Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1978 to join a newly organized Department of Pharmacology. After 32 years and serving as Associate Chair, Russell retired in 2010.

Russell served as an elder at Fort Street Presbyterian Church. He also served as an Anthony Wayne Society Member and was president of Detroit Physiological Society. Russell also served as President of the Michigan Asian Art Society for a number of years. He was a member of American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Chemical Society, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has an entry in American Men & Women of Science and Marquis Who's Who in the Midwest.

While attending chemistry classes at the College of Wooster, Russell Yamazaki met Jane Welton, the "love of his life". They were married in 1966 and spent a lifetime together singing in numerous choirs. Russell especially enjoyed preparing musical tapes and CDs for rehearsal purposes. Russell also shared Jane's love of travel in Japan and learning about Japanese history (Jane's teaching profession).

Russell Yamazaki was preceded in death by his parents William and Sue Yamazaki and is survived by wife Jane and sisters June Craner and Nancy Leavenworth (Scott) and niece Holly Leavenworth of Superior, CO.

In life, Russell felt pride in his contributions to teaching and research, joy in singing choral works with numerous longtime friends and inspiration in being Up North in Michigan.


Mike Bannon on Jan 19, 2022

Russ was a wonderful colleague to all of us in the Department of Pharmacology. He had a quiet demeanor but a quick smile and even quicker brain. He cared deeply about his role as a teacher of future generations, and continued to come in to teach for a number of years after he had 'retired'. As founder of our pharmacovigilance curriculum, he shepherded in a new method that became the cornerstone for teaching our discipline to medical students, so his legacy lives on at the University.

Sara Barstow on Jan 11, 2022

A remarkable life! As a friend of his sister June I didn't know Russell well, but I got to visit with him at his mom's memorial, and was blessed to hear him sing at his brother-in-law's service. My deepest condolences to the family, may you have peace and comfort in the memories of your time with him.
Sara Barstow

Nora and Ed Conn on Jan 11, 2022

We have such fond memories of Russell. He had a quiet demeanor which we all respected. When he and Jane attended the Berkshire Choral Fest, he was quickly acknowledged for his beautiful voice and accuracy, by his fellow tenors . He was an unforgettable, kind , talented friend . We will miss him.

Nancy and John Cline on Jan 11, 2022

What a gift to have known Russ for 40 years. This extraordinary man graced our lives with such quiet grandness, warmth, endless knowledge, generosity, and a musical heart that we are overwhelmed by his loss. We count ourselves as lucky beyond measure to have called him dear friend and musical colleague, to have learned from him and to have been on the receiving end of his hospitality. From Fort Street to Omena, from the wind on the lake to time at the grill and musical conversations in the living room, we treasure so many memories. He will always be in our hearts, and we will hope to honor him by passing on the gifts he gave us - music, fellowship, and friendship.
-Nancy and John Cline



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