Arlene Kawabe Obituary (1945 – 2023) – Flagstaff, AZ

Arlene “Aiko” Kawabe passed away peacefully at home on January 11, 2023, from complications due to Parkinson’s Disease. She was 77 years old. Aiko was born on June 29, 1945 in Los Angeles, CA, to Chitose and Kiyoto Kawabe. She grew up in the LA area, then moved to Phoenix, Arizona the early 1970’s. The family later moved to Snowflake, AZ, and then on to Flagstaff in 1981, where she spent the remainder of her life. Aiko attended Northern Arizona University after raising her family, where she earned a degree in Music Performance.

Aiko’s main passion in life was music, and everyone who knew her remembers her love of teaching piano, which she did for over 50 years. She loved nothing more than a huge piano recital with all her students, with lots of cake to follow! In addition to teaching piano, Aiko led a colorful life with owning a hobby shop, being a professional seamstress, and having a career as a registered piano technician and examiner for the Piano Technicians Guild. She was also an active member of the local Soroptomist International group for many years. Another passion of Aiko’s was fishing, and she would travel around northern Arizona tuning pianos, stopping to fish at every available lake. One of her favorite sayings was “you can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish!”

Aiko is survived by her three children Joy Rutter (David) Stephens, Jim (Julie) Silverman, and Scott (Diane) Silverman, and her closest friend and caregiver, Nick Nakashima. She is also survived by her grandchildren Kayla Pettinger, Ellie Pendleton, Bethany Ingram, and Robin Silverman, and her brother Dennis (Noriko) Kawabe. She also leaves behind countless friends and former students. Aiko lived with Parkinson’s Disease for over 20 years; if you are so inclined, in lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the American Parkinson Disease Association in your memory. Memories and condolences can be shared with family online at An open house Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, February 3, 2023 from 3:00-5:00 pm at Norvel Owens Mortuary, 914 E. Rt 66, Flagstaff, AZ.

Published by Arizona Daily Sun on Jan. 22, 2023.

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