Ann Yasuhara, the Legacy of the Social Justice Advocate

yasuhara1Ann Yasuhara died last week at the age of 82 in her home in Princeton. She was a Quaker, a computer scientist, and a fierce social justice advocate. She loved to garden, listen to music, engage with art and contribute to her community. In 1972, Yasuhara joined the faculty at Rutgers in the computer science department. Ileana Streinu took Yasuhara’s classes and said “it was an exquisite topic, beautiful mathematic that Ann was conveying to generation of graduate students. In a department with only a few women on the faculty, she was a model to look up to. With grace and generosity, she touched my life and the lives of many students like me.” Yasuhara also touched many lives through her peace and justice activities. She resisted war and violence whenever she could, always following the peaceful resistance methods of the Quakers. Her many positive contributions to this world include organizing training groups for inner city children, serving on the committees for the Society of Friends in the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and working on nonviolent direct action protests with the Earth Quaker Action Team to stop mountaintop coal mining. Documentary film maker and member of the Princeton Friends Meeting, Janet Gardner said of Yasuhara, “Ann was a leader in the Quaker faith and an inspiration to all of us. She set the bar very high and gave us confidence to fight for a better world.” Yasuhara made the world better for her students, for the environment, and for her local community. In Princeton, Yasuhara started Silent Prayers for Peace that organized vigils each week. She also founded the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund and Not in Our Town, an interracial, interfaith social action group for racial justice. She started a discussion on race at the Princeton Public Library where thought provoking community discussions were held on the differences that define us. Yasuhara will be keenly missed, but the good she put into our world will live on.