Audrey Tsuruda, a nationally recognized graphic designer based in Sacramento, California, died of cancer on July 15, 2011, at the age of 82. Audrey was a role model for multi-culturalism and women’s rights. Her father, Kim John Yee, was from Canton China and her mother, Lillian Quantlease Jackson, was of American Indian descent.
     Audrey graduated from Sacramento High School, Sacramento Junior College and Parsons School of Design in Manhattan. Audrey was hired as the first woman designer at the internationally renowned industrial design firm of Donald Deskey Associates. Her job was to bring a female designer’s sensibility to products designed to reach women. While in New York, Audrey met and fell in love with a handsome Japanese-American soldier from Sacramento, Tom Tsuruda. They married and moved back to Sacramento to start careers and a family.
     In 1964, Audrey and her friend Maurice Read founded Tsuruda/Read and Others Advertising (‘Others’ was the office cat). For 20 years the firm produced a variety of advertising for local businesses, including Frank Fats, Niello Volkswagen, the Mansion Inn, and Teichert Construction. Tsuruda/Read was one of the first advertising firms in California to specialize in political campaigns (Democrats were their  specialty). Their clients included Governor Pat. Brown; U.S. Senators Pierre Salinger, Eugene McCarthy, and Hubert Humphrey; State Senators George Moscone, Nicholas Petris, and Mervyn Dymally; Congressmen John Moss, Ron Dellums, and Bob Matsui; Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh; and local officials Phil Isenberg, Joe Serna, Ted Sheedy, Burnett Miller, Phil Angelides, Jimmie Yee, Eugene Gualco, Grantland Johnson, and Lloyd Connelly.
     Audrey wrote a limited-edition autobiography, The Looking Glass Child. A copy is available at the Center for Sacramento History. She was selected Small Businessperson of the Year by the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce in 1983. Among Audrey’s many community services are: Co-Founder and first President of the Sacramento Art Director’s Club; Sacramento Grand Jury; Chair of the Metropolitan Arts Commission; President of Friends of the Center for Performing Arts; Mayor’s Committee for Re-Use of the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium; Vice-Chair of the California Historical Preservation Society; Board Member of Northern California Construction Training; Volunteer as a Long-Term-Care Ombudsman.
     Audrey’s passions were collecting art and traveling. She visited 32 countries in Asia, Africa, and North, South, and Central America. She was famous among her friends for the gorgeous photography featured in her long-lasting slide shows.
     Audrey is survived by her two sons, Steven and Jay Tsuruda and daughter Valerie Tsuruda-Goodman. Services will be private. Donations in memory of Audrey Tsuruda can be made to The Asian Community Center, 731 Greenhaven Dr., Sacramento 95831. Donations will be used to support the Lifelong Learning Program.
Published in The Sacramento Bee on
July 28, 2011