Memorial tomorrow for Shuzo Chris Kato, former Sealth principal, Denny teacher, judo champ

A memorial service is planned tomorrow for Shuzo Chris Kato, a longtime educator who was a former Chief Sealth (pre-International) High School principal, among many other things. His family shares this remembrance:

Shuzo Chris Kato passed away peacefully on February 7, 2012 at the age of 85 after a battle with cancer. During WWII, his family was sent to Minidoka Relocation Center in Hunt, ID. Shuzo graduated high school while in camp from Hunt High. He served in the Army from 1945-1947.

Shuzo attended Bethel College and the University of Washington where he majored in Engineering. He married Jean Kawachi in 1958 and they raised their family in Seattle. He earned a Masters degree in Chemistry from Oregon State University and his Administrator credentials from Seattle University. An avid judoist and sensei, Shuzo did judo for 60 years and taught judo for 43 years, winning a National Judo Championship in 1957 and earning a 7th-degree black belt. He began his teaching career with the Seattle School District in 1953. He taught at Denny Jr. High, Mercer Jr. High, and Queen Anne High. He was a Vice Principal at Sharples Jr. High and at Cleveland High. He retired as Principal of Chief Sealth High after 36 years in education.

Shuzo was well known for his artistic talent, Japanese cooking and love of a good bargain. He enjoyed traveling, spending time with friends and family, cheering on his grandchildren at events, rooting for Seattle sports teams, and trying his luck at the local casinos.

Shuzo was preceded in death by his parents and 5 brothers. He is survived by his loving wife of 53 years, Jean; son, Kent (Bonita); daughters, Cindi (Rick) Kato-Yokoyama, Diana (Steve) Celle, Rose (Lance) Gyotoku; seven grandchildren, Kayla, Kelsey, Kai, Staci, Kyle, Dillon and Paige; brother, Hideo (Janet); sister-in-law, Lillian; numerous nieces and nephews, and relatives in Japan. Shuzo was deeply loved and will be greatly missed.

A memorial service in celebration of Shuzo’s life will be held on Saturday, February 25 at 2 pm at Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church (3001 24th Ave. S., Seattle, WA, 98144). In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church. You may also share your memories of Shuzo by visiting the online guestbook at

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8 Replies to "Memorial tomorrow for Shuzo Chris Kato, former Sealth principal, Denny teacher, judo champ"

  • Kam February 24, 2012 (11:55 am)

    Mr.Kato was a great principle when I went to school there I didn’t have to talk to him much but when I did he was very friendly and unintimidating considering he was a black belt and all. And when I went to school there it was even rumored that he trained with Bruce Lee. R.I.P. MR. Kato

  • Tbone February 24, 2012 (1:33 pm)

    Sounds like an amazing character! Rest in peace.

  • Jim Paull February 24, 2012 (6:35 pm)

    I remember when he won the Judo Championship. He was representative of those few people having the skill of Judo in that you never knew he had that power.

  • Snow Wimp February 24, 2012 (7:44 pm)

    Oh, baby. I am happy I never had to face HIM in the Vice-principal’s office. Yes, sir. Sorry I acted up. Will not happen again.

    Vice-principals used to be so great. Usually, ex-football linebackers, defensive linemen, or judo experts, or “gasp” tougher. I don’t recall ever repeating the same punk teen-age transgression twice. They put the fear of gawd in you….

    I remember walking into “Coach McLaughlin’s Office” at Lake Washington Senior High School in Kirkland, Washington in 1968, after upsetting my German teacher. Vice-principal McLaughlin said: “I ought to throw you against the wall.” That was enough for Snow Wimp.

  • thelmasue February 24, 2012 (10:45 pm)

    wow. anyone else notice the poignancy in the fact that he served in the u.s. army, DESPITE being sent to an internment camp?!?!??!?! wow. THAT’S an AMERICAN!

  • Kam February 24, 2012 (11:31 pm)

    at the same time Mr. Kato was principal there was also a history teacher named Mr. dobarnowski who escaped from a Nazi internment camp during World War II. I’m sure I’m spelling his name wrong I’m sorry.

  • Hail to Chief Sealth High February 25, 2012 (4:20 pm)

    “Dobranowski” (Stanley)… (to the person above

    Mr. Kato was a great principal. He was silently the most imposing force in the building, but he was kind and wonderful to those who deserved respect.

    I did once see him break up a fight near the Sealth lunch room and seemingly hurl a(n oh-so-deserving) kid across a table.

    Get the feeling that many of today’s shenanigans wouldn’t have been in play back during Mr. Kato’s years as principal.

    Mr. Kato would on occasion ask certain students doing certain administrative jobs for special attention to a project of his. He would reward (us) with a candy bar for a job well done. It seems small, but it meant something at the time… (along with the implicit right to EAT said candy bar during classroom hours – after all, who was your immediate superior going to report you to should they object??)

  • Rick February 26, 2012 (7:05 am)

    Mr. Dobranowski’s story of his escape was quite compelling.

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