Debra Sei Van Volkenburg April 2, 1933 - December 3, 2014 A Tribute to a Blessed Life Debra S. Van Volkenburg went to be with our Lord Jesus Christ at 8:30pm on the 3rd of December 2014. Debra passed away peacefully in her sleep at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Bedford, Texas after her heart failed following a systemic infection. Born Sei Ishizaka in Kumamoto, Japan on the 2nd of April 1933, she was 81 at the time of her passing. She was the youngest of 3 daughters of her father Masao and mother Hatsuo Ishizaka all of whom preceded her in death. Having been born into an ancient Samurai family, Debra was a shining example of strength under control, intelligence coupled with wisdom, and a humble nature that was genuine and noticed by all. This energetic woman lived a life rich in love, adventure and service. Debra survived and overcame obstacles of titan proportion during her life. These included surviving the ravages of World War II as a child in Japan, losing her sisters early in life, and during the War. Her father Masao died shortly after the end of World War II having served as Brigadier General in the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. Fallout from the atomic bomb over Nagasaki fell upon her, and later she would contract breast cancer. Later medical interventions including a mastectomy, liver and kidney transplants and skin ailments would try to knock her down, but Debra always jumped up and ran the race of life to the fullest! She was the symbol of a life lived abundantly! In August of 1956, a young and beautiful Sei Ishizaka met an American airman getting his cashmere coat made at the clothing store where she worked as a seamstress. This tall, handsome blue-eyed blond Californian gallantly intervened on her behalf when an older serviceman was a bit forward and lacking good manners with her. Well, that was all it took to win the heart of Sei, and she married Bill Van Volkenburg on the 5th of September 1957 in Fukuoka, Japan. Moving from her native Japan to a whole new world, culture and experience, Sei and Bill were transferred stateside along with their two little boys born of their union. Again, undaunted by strange new customs, cultures, people, mannerisms and faces, Sei immersed herself into her new American home with unbridled enthusiasm! One must discard any notions of the stereotypical subservient, demure and shy Japanese woman. Her brave excursions all over Malmstrom Air Force Base and the city of Great Falls, Montana exemplified her excitement and boldness in joyfully going forward with her new life and young family. Everything was new, foreign and American, but undaunted Sei learned, adapted, and overcame her obstacles. This would become a hallmark of her entire life. In 1962, Sei Van Volkenburg became Debra Sei Van Volkenburg and a citizen of the United States of America. She would now be known by the name of Debra henceforth by her friends and family. Her son, Kevin remembers his mother was very proud to become a new citizen of the U.S.A. ! She always taught her children to be good citizens of this country her entire life. Debra was the perfect mother. In the coldest of Montana winters she would bundle her boys up warm, and when the sun came out take them out to play at the park. Holding little Kevin and Terry’s hands with her soft warm hands, she would sweetly sing to them and bring joy into their little lives. She pushed the merry-go-round and they would giggle with laughter as they spun around past her smiling and loving face. Her love would never cease as her boys and her daughter Judy continued on their merry-go round journey of life, powered by her encouragement and unconditional love. The family was moved from one Air Force base to another. Japan to Montana. Montana to Colorado. Colorado to Texas. Texas to Hawaii and back again to Texas! Maybe God wanted Debra to be a Texan?! For it was in Texas that a great chapter in her life was yet to be written. Debra, now an American through and through and a naturalized Texan, set out on many more adventures! One of her most important if not the greatest was when she came to know Our Lord Jesus Christ in 1977 at Castle Hills First Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. Not just resting on her laurels, she went out and won souls for Christ. At the airport, at shopping malls, at every location convenient or not, Debra was a witness for Christ. She was influenced greatly by her friend and adopted “mother” Helen Cade, her beloved Pastor, Dr. George Harris and wife Lynda. Ask anyone who knew her at First Baptist and you will get a litany of anecdotes of Debra and her spreading the Word. They loved her so! So, know this…your sister in Christ, Debra S. Van Volkenburg is surely in the Kingdom of Heaven praising Father God this very moment! Debra is survived by her loving husband William Ray Van Volkenburg, sons Kevin Van Volkenburg and Terry Van Volkenburg, daughter Judy A. Veselka, grandsons Devin, Ryan, William Terry, Kristian, Joshua, and great-grandaughter Evangelynn. Also mourning her passing is Terry’s wife Nancy, Judy’s husband Billy and William Terry’s wife Morgan. Debra is preceded in death by her grandson Nicholas R. Van Volkenburg, son of Kevin Van Volkenburg. Again with her unceasing love, she expressed a knowledge that she would be able to see Nicky again in Heaven. In addition to her loving friends back in San Antonio, those mourning her loss and celebrating her rich life include her friends in her home town of Bedford and her church home, First Euless. Her friends and living family members in Kumamoto City, Japan will also mourn her loss. The Van Volkenburg family would like to thank the nursing and medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital for their care and kind consideration to the family. Thanks also to Lucas Funeral Homes for their assistance during this time. Heartfelt thanks also to Dr. George Harris for his loving words and prayers lifted up on behalf of Debra and her family. Memorial Service and Celebration of Debra’s life will be at First Baptist Euless at 11:00AM Tuesday 9th of December 2014. Debra will be laid to rest at 1:45PM Thursday 11th of December 2014 at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas.
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