Portland JACL Newsletter: May 2014 Issue
Board Member Message by Setsy Sadamoto Larouche
100 Years Young!
This summer we’ll be celebrating the birthdays of two special ladies in our community who will turn 100 years old. What a wonderful milestone for both of them.
Lilly Yuriko Ono
Lilly Yuriko Ono was born on June 9, 1914 in Clackamas, Oregon and spent time in Okayama, Japan attending a sewing school prior to WWII. Lilly spent the war years in Tule Lake, California and spent the entire time working at the mess hall. Her hobbies are sewing and cooking. She was married in 1938 and has five children. Ken is the oldest, Wayne, who passed away at the age of 56, daughter, Barbara Morisato, son, Clyde, and the youngest daughter, Pat. Lilly also has seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
She spent most of her life farming in Vancouver, Washington. While working on the farm, she was known for her great speed and accuracy. She was "Ichiban"—no one could beat her. Lilly drove a tractor and did precision-cultivation of rows and rows of lettuce without "chopping" them. When her husband passed away, so, too, went the means for her transportation. Her husband was from the old school and would not let her drive. Lilly was in her seventies when she decided to learn how to drive. She enrolled at the Sears Driving School and received her driver permit. She practiced diligently and tried to pass the driving test the first time. Unfortunately she failed. She practiced some more and re-took the test but failed again because she could not back up the car properly. She continued to practice diligently with her son, Ken, who helped her by using the safety cones. Finally, she passed the test and what a joy it brought to her and her family. But in her early 90’s, she kept having fender benders and had to stop driving. It was a very difficult time for her as she lost some of her independence.
She’s retired now and lives at the Royal Anne Assisted Living Center in Portland. Lilly has been very active in her Henjyoji Temple leading in their chanting. Now, she has some health issues but recently attended the Hyakudo Kai (century club) annual luncheon at the Chinese Village Restaurant.
Alice Etsuko Sumida was born in Oso Flaco, (Santa Barbara County) California on July 18, 1914. She married Mark Sumida (an Issei) who was 10 years older and moved to Seattle. They had a business selling seeds to farmers all over the West Coast. When WWII started they were herded into the Portland Assembly Center (now the Expo Center). Instead of being sent to Minidoka Concentration Camp in Idaho, they opted to work in Eastern Oregon in Nyssa, Oregon. Once the contract work was completed they got a small loan and purchased a small farm and decided to grow potatoes and onions. However, since the market was saturated they could not make a living growing potatoes and onions. So they opted to try growing gladioli bulbs. After sending samples all over the U.S., they were flooded with orders and it took them 5 years to fill all the orders. They became the largest gladioli bulb growers in the U.S. They wanted to pass their business to their nephew but he declined so they sold their business.
After moving back to Portland around 1965, they started a Japanese Koi (carp) business. They moved to Woodburn, Oregon and continued the Koi business. After 10 years of Koi business her husband passed away due to a stroke. Alice sold the business and moved to Portland and at 88 years of age started ballroom dance lessons. She traveled the world attending dance competitions and winning each time. Alice is currently the President of the Hyakudo Kai (Century Club) and she remains very active attending many functions.
Her generosity and support is legendary to various non-profit organizations to include, the Japanese Ancestral Society, JASO, the Minidoka Swing Band, Nikkei Fujinkai, the Oregon Buddhist Temple, Oregon Hiroshima Club, the Oregon Nikkei Endowment, Portland JACL, the Portland Japanese Garden, Portland State University, Portland Taiko, Tomodachi-Kai and Unite People, Portland JACL’s youth group.
She still drives during the day and currently lives at Edgewood Downs Retirement Center. Her advice to us is: "Be patient, accept whatever comes to your life, happy or sad, and make the best you can from every circumstance. Then enjoy every day as it comes!"
Please join us in a community wide celebration honoring their birthdays with a luncheon on Saturday, July 19, 2014 at noon at the Chinese Village Restaurant. Please see the flyer enclosed. Please RSVP promptly as seating is limited.