We're used to it now here at the office: Zing, there goes picture researcher Donna Tsufura sprinting down the halls. Tsufura, 24, is intent on getting everything done five minutes ago. It's appropriate therefore that track and field is one of the sports Tsufura has been regularly assigned to since she joined SI in 1981, and she was in Los Angeles with her loupe at the ready as the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials—and our first trial of an on-the-spot picture-editing procedure for the Games—began last week (page 22).
Both sets of Tsufura's grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Japan, where her name, which was designated to the family at the end of that country's feudal era, is so rare that, she says, "Japanese people don't believe it's Japanese." Donna's father, Satoru, is the publisher and photographer for the New Jersey-based Sportsfolio, a magazine that covers high school sports. Her mother, Alice, is an operating-room nurse, and her 22-year-old brother, Lamarr, is a copy clerk at TIME.
Tsufura graduated from Barnard College in New York City in 1981; she was an English major and art editor of the campus humor magazine. While at Barnard she worked part time in the Time Inc. library and she spent a summer as an SI photo department intern.
When we decided to hire Tsufura in '81, she was en route to what was to be a two-year stay in Japan. "I was just going to try to get a job and learn about the country," Tsufura says. She had back-packed through Europe and had ridden the Trans-Siberian Railway to Nakhodka, where she caught a ship to Yokohama, then a train to Tokyo where we finally caught up with her.
When the workday is done, Tsufura doesn't slow down. She has taken evening courses—she calls herself a "classaholic"—in German, Chinese, photography and, most recently, folk guitar. She finds time to work for a social agency for New York's Japanese-American community, doing everything from taking elderly ladies shopping to selling ice cream in Central Park as part of a fund-raising benefit.
As for the office, "I practically have to kick her out of here at night," says picture editor Barbara Henckel as Tsufura stops by to say good night, guitar in one hand, a stack of papers in the other. "She's a gem."