50 years of life and love in Echo Park

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It was 50 years ago today that  former Marine lieutenant Walter Elmer and Sumiko Shingaki were married in the bride’s native Okinawa. In a few weeks, however, the newly married couple were living with Walter’s brother in Echo Park on Ewing Street until they found a permanent place to call home. It turns out that Walter and Sumiko took a liking to Echo Park, where they ended up buying their own home and raising two children. Walter even taught nearby – at Elysian Heights Elementary – for  26 years.  On their first Sunday in Los Angeles, the Elmers attended church services at the Echo Park United Methodist Church. The couple were back in the same church on Sunday, where Sumiko and Walter celebrated their wedding anniversary in the basement over  Chinese food shared with the congregation, friends and family.


  1. This lovely couple happen to be my Neighbors. Always quick to say a cheerful hello! I love their smiles. Congrats to Walter & Sumiko!

  2. soooo cute. love this story.

  3. Mr. Elmer was my 6th grade teacher @ Elysian Heights Elementary in 1973!!! Congrats to both of them! He is an amazing educator and made a huge impression on me.

  4. Keith looks big face scary! Oh man!

  5. @joan — i’m sorry, but do i know you? rude! securitaaay!

  6. Mr. Elmer was my 6th grade teacher. Can you post more photos, or maybe an email address? I’d like to buy them lunch some time.

  7. I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Elmer when I organized the Echo Park Arts Festival’s Youth Art shows years ago. He was always enthusiastic about getting his students involved and very encouraging when they won awards. I will never forget how impressive he was doing a most excellent job with those kids at Elysian Heights. I still see him driving up and down Echo Park Avenue with his wife in that cool old car of theirs!

  8. I am neighbors with these LOVELY people, and I always see them walking every night while holding hands. Seeing this ALWAYS make me smile and just makes the world for that very moment seem simple and kind. Walter and Sumiko, congratulations! Thank you for showing the rest of us the true meaning of love and marriage.

  9. Awesome piece. Congrats Mr and Mrs Elmer. Here’s to another 50.

  10. Wait, I thought we were led to believe that the only white people in Echo Park were newly arrived espresso sipping “hipsters?!?” Well, I’m afraid this changes everything.

  11. Blooming In Echo Park

    We feel so lucky to call Walter and Sumiko our neighbors. They brighten the day of everyone on our street as they walk up and down hand in hand. They are the couple who we should all look to, to set the pace for Echo Park and an example for all who live here and are raising their families here. Congratulations Walter and Sumiko!

  12. I met Mr. Elmer while attending Elysian Heights elementary. He was the 6th grade teacher for both my brothers and they cared for him a great deal, and the rest of our family learned to care for him as well. Congratulations to you both, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer, on your wonderful life together. Your community has been enriched by your presence.


  13. Gilbert Santacruz

    Mr. Elmer was my 6th grade teacher. I gave him the most difficult time in the world. Mr. Elmer if youre reading this God Bless, and thank you for being patient with me in 86′, i still remember those long keys you always had on your side. Congratulations.

  14. I was actually in the first class Mr. Elmer taught at Elysian Heights, he had been at another school before that. However his son Kim had attended Elysian Heights and graduated before he started teaching (Kim was classmate of my sister). I also attended the very nice party that the school threw for him in the auditorium when he retired about ten years ago. He also lived just two blocks from our house. He was a very good teacher and neighbor.

    • David congratulations on getting your black belt in judo. i heard from my brothers who attend San Gabriel dojo with his two sons I hope you are doing well ,just happened to come across this website…a voice from the past Eddie Sakuda

  15. Thank you David for sending me the link.
    David and I were in the same class (71), and if I remember correctly we had Mr.Phares as our full-time teacher and Mr. Elmer was our math teacher.
    I was not certain of Mr. Elmer, though he was a very good teacher. That all changed when we took the first annual week long trip with our graduating class, and he stood up to Miss Mason for our benefit…..Loved him ever since. He and his wife are wonderful examples of what a marriage should be.

  16. Wow–congratulations to Mr. Elmer & Sumiko!! Great to see that their marriage has stood the test of Hollywood time! Mr. Elmer was my 6th grade teacher back in ’84. He’s always been one of my favorite teachers of all time. The organizational skills he taught me then still continue to haunt me to this day! Haha! 🙂 A truly inspirational story–congrats!

  17. I was also a student of Mr. Elmer’s 6th grade class in 1976! We traveled for a week up to Sacramento and San Francisco as a whole class after earning money for the trip by collecting alluminum cans. He used to teach us Latin! He was a very good teacher and I even went back to the school when I was 30 for a visit. I now live in San Francisco and have for 26 years. Echo Park is a memory of a time when I was a child and seems like a long time ago but I enjoyed Elysian Heights and we all played the recorders in Mr. Elmer’s class. I still have mine!!

  18. A heartfelt congratulations to Mr. Elmer and Ms. Shingaki! Mr. Elmer was my 5th and 6th grade teacher at Elysian Heights. He lead me on my life-long relationship with literature, deep appreciation of Yosemite winters, and my love of teaching – English.

  19. Am so pleased to see this honor for mr. Elmer and his lovely wife. My brother Dan and I went to his class. I remember the 6th grade trip ( back in 76) to be one of the highlights of my life.

  20. My daughter, Abra, was lucky enough to be in Mr. Elmer’s class for both fifth and sixth grades in 1971 and 1972. So many of the kids, like mine, had no resident daddy, or other male adult, involved in their lives, and there are so few male elementary teachers, that having a strong and kind person like him teaching our children was a rare benefit. I have thought of him often since then and have wished him the best i n life. I ‘m glad to learn that he has it
    I have a couple of pictures, if anyone would like them — apparently they can’t be copied into this comment.

  21. Mr. Elmer was my 6th grade teacher and I have always appreciated his kindness and patience with me. I know he needed a lot of patience! Most of all he was a great example of what a good person can be, it is amazing what one person can do to affect so many lives for good.

    God bless you both on your 50th Anniversary; congratulations and thank you for being who you are.

  22. Mr. Elmer taught us how to play the recorder back in the 70’s! Elysian Heights was such a great school.

  23. Stephanie Corrales

    Mr. Elmer was my 6th Grade Teacher at Elysian Heights Elementary School…best 6th Grade Teacher and one of the best Teachers at Elysian…very fond memories of being in his class!

  24. Mr. Elmer was my 6th grade teacher in 1988. He was one of the best teachers I ever had in my life, and I’ve had loads of them. I wish there was a way to get a hold of him to let him know how much he influenced my life. Thanks so much Mr. Elmer! You helped shape who I have become as a whole person. Thank you!

  25. Mr Elmer was my 6th Grade teacher in the class of 81 and I sure did love his teachings. I always remember he taught us Latin and how to play the recorder. He is a great man and teacher and he is forever burned in my heart.

  26. Congrats! Mr Elmer was my 6th grade teacher back in 1978.

  27. Mr. Elmer was my 6th grade Teacher class of 86, I new he was in the military didn’t know he was a Devil Dog.

  28. Mr. Elmer was one of the biggest influences on me in my life. He was not only my sixth grade teacher but he taught my older siblings as well. He was strict, but he was kind. I have very fond memories of going to camp with him, playing the lap harp and the recorder, learning latin….trademark Mr. Elmer education!! I never enjoyed school again the way I did in that last year of elementary school with Mr. Elmer. In fact, I graduated early (Cal State Proficiency Exam) and entered the work force after my ninth grade year because school was soooo boring….never as enriching as it was with Elmer. Hats off to ya Mr. Elmer. I have never met anyone yet that didn’t have the highest regard for you!! You have made quite an impression on a lot of people!! Much love to you.

  29. MR.ELMER was my six grade teacher back in early 70’s and I once hid his Turtle inside a desk for days. I’ll never forget how upset I made him. I am sorry for what I did.

    Now being a father & Grandpa I truly know how valuable life can be.

    I guest I did OK in life. I joined the U.S.MARINE CORPS. & retired from Law Enforcement w/ L.A. County. I got to experience lots of THINGs.

    Thank you Mr.Elmer for telling me to join The Marines. It made a man of me. You’re a great man. Semper Fidelis!

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