Cover photo for Itaru "Steve" Watanabe's Obituary
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1933 Itaru 2024

Itaru "Steve" Watanabe

June 20, 1933 — January 4, 2024

Itaru “Steve” Watanabe, 90, passed away peacefully on January 4, 2024.  Services will be held on Friday, January 19, 2024, 2:00 p.m. at the Wesley Chapel of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, 13720 Roe Ave, Leawood, Kansas.

Steve was born the oldest of four brothers in Sapporo, Japan on June 20, 1933 to Eiichi and Fuji Watanabe and grew up in the rural seaport of Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan.  He received two doctorate degrees - M.D. and Sc.D. - from Keio University in Tokyo, Japan.  He married Kei Kanazawa, the daughter of his professor; and raised a family of three sons (one born the US).  He moved his young family to Indianapolis, Indiana in 1964, where he took a position as a research fellow at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis.  In 1973, he moved to Overland Park, Kansas to work in pathology at the Veterans Administration of Kansas City, Missouri; and as an adjunct professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center.  He proudly became a naturalized US citizen in the mid-1970’s.

Steve had various interests that kept him physically and mentally busy.  He loved music, influenced by his mother who sang opera, his wife who played the piano, and his children who learned various instruments.  He was also very active – tennis, mountain climbing, jogging, skiing, ballroom dance, golf, and snowboarding.  He had a reliable presence at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (COR), one year having been rewarded “perfect attendance”; and where he participated in Sunday school classes and Computer Ministries.  He was a skilled consumer of Apple Computers; he often watched symphony performances and Japanese Catholic church services on YouTube.

The family wishes to thank everyone who found themselves kind and loving to our father, who allowed him into their circle of friends, who shared their trade with him, who patiently listened to his unbounded perspectives, who played and laughed with him.  We know that he made wonderful friends at the Veterans Administration, Brookridge Country Club, Loch Lloyd Country Club, the Kansas City Ski Club, COR, and Tallgrass Creek.  We especially wish to thank all of the medical and spiritual professionals who worked and cared for his health throughout his life, whose career choices we recognize as life choices with deeply meaningful compassion toward people and community.

Steve is survived by his brothers Arata Watanabe and Tasuku Watanabe of Japan; Masayo Watanabe (son) of Tempe, AZ, Jomei, Mika (grandchildren); Takashi (son) and Nancy Watanabe of Overland Park, Kansas; Hisashi David (son) and Carol Watanabe of Lake Forest, IL, Steven, Kayla (grandchildren).



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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Friday, January 19, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

Church of the Resurrection United Methodist Church - Wesley Chapel

13720 Roe Ave, Leawood, KS 66224

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