Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Page 3


Services Set for Former Southwestern Board Member

Judith K. Otamura-Kester Dies in Alaska at Age 57


By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer


Memorial services are scheduled this morning for former Southwestern Law School trustee Judith K. Otamura-Kester, who died last week at the age of 57.

Otamura-Kester was at a hotel in Denali, Alaska to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her wedding to attorney Steven L. Kester, a fellow Southwestern alumnus, when she suffered a fatal heart attack early Thursday morning.

A senior vice president and associate general counsel of global investment bank and institutional securities firm Jefferies & Company Inc., Otamura-Kester  was stationed in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

She attended college at UCLA before graduating from Southwestern in 1977, and earned admission to the State Bar of California the following year.

Otamura-Kester  served on Southwestern’s Board of Trustees as the president and past president of the school’s Alumni Association from 2003-07.

She was a member of the school’s Alumni Board for more than 13 years and during her tenure as president oversaw the establishment of the Alumni Resource Network, which now has over 500 alumni from throughout the United States mentoring Southwestern students.

Southwestern Assistant Dean for Institutional Advancement Debbie Leathers told the MetNews that she and Otamura-Kester had become good personal friends during the latter’s tenure as president of the Alumni Board, and Leathers praised the progress made by Otamura-Kester  in establishing the network.

“She was really active with the school,” Leathers commented. “It was an extraordinary pleasure working with her the entire time she was on the board. She was an extraordinary woman and a wonderful president.”

Otamura-Kester  also served as president of the Japanese American Bar Association in 1987.

Today’s memorial service is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. at the Sky Rose Chapel in Rose Hills Memorial Park, 3888 Workman Mill Road, in Whittier.

A celebration of Otamura-Kester ’s life will be held immediately after the memorial service at the Friendly Hills Country Club, 8500 S. Via Verde, in Whittier.

In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested donations be made to the Judith Otamura-Kester Memorial Scholarship Fund at Southwestern.


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