Geneva Cobb Iijima grew up during World War II and the Korean War. She vividly recalls the blackouts and her mother’s anxiety when her dad’s deferments for a critical position in plywood-making neared expiration.
She remembers being called “bean-pole” because she was tall, and “corn-cob” because of her last name. She hated both nicknames, and wants children to know that, regardless of how they look, their cultural background, whether they are rich or poor,or any other personal handicaps they may have, each is created for a wonderful purpose. In fact, one of the reasons she writes is to help people understand and appreciate each other not in spite of, but because of, their differences.
How She Began Writing
Her first published work was in a Sunday School paper when she was eleven years old. Her next recognition was an award for an Americanism essay when she was middle-school age. In high school, she had stories in both the school and local newspapers.
Ever since Geneva’s years in Sunday School singing, “Jesus Loves the Little Children, All the Children of the World,” she’s loved the uniqueness of people of different cultures. She developed friendships with African-, Chinese-, Japanese- and Native Americans, East Indians, Mexicans and those of Arabic backgrounds. She remembers bragging to playmates that she was part Native American – 1/32nd. She’s made friends with people of different faiths, as well.
Little did she know this love of the different peoples of the world would eventually lead her to her husband, Peter, who is Japanese. When they first met, she was trying to match him up with a Japanese girlfriend, but she proved to be a terrible matchmaker. He wasn’t interested in the girlfriend, but he fell in love with the matchmaker.
In the early 1970s, Geneva, her husband and three small children lived in Japan, absorbing the culture. They delighted in being near her husband’s family and learning about this part of the family heritage. Their experiences there were partially the inspiration for Geneva’s delightful children’s book, “The Way We Do It In Japan”.
Geneva and her husband, Peter, have lived in historic Oregon City, Oregon (the end of the Oregon Trail) for most of their married life. They have four grown children and six grandchildren. They enjoy reading, gardening, hiking and travel.
Another unique aspect of their lives for many years was the operation of a health ministry called Eden Health Ministry. They taught people to grow in physical and emotional health through diet, exercise and dealing with the emotional and spiritual causes of illness.
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