COMMANDER’S COMMENT: On a personal note, the military family is an essential part of mission success. I believe NVC and NVCF are recipients of the same level of support!
David Fukuhara shared his fond memories of Dolly Tokunaga and Matsue Watanabe and their “all-in” support of NVC and the NVC Foundation over many years. Dolly often shared Camp stories about my Mom, Pauline (Matsudaira) Yaguchi. The pile of laundry Mom tackled every week was what she remembered most. Dolly lived across the street from Mom at Minidoka, and she would help her so they could watch the movies together.
My recent memory of Matsue Watanabe was her interview at the State Capital before the Day of Remembrance legislative session. I’ve attached a photo of that day but hearing her tell her story was remarkable and riveting. We talked about her interview and NVC while her son, Dale Watanabe, was interviewed. On reflection, she and Dolly are like many others who are passionate on educating others about the WWII Nisei soldier legacy and why it matters today. Lest we forget. – Mike Yaguchi
DOLLY MIYOKO TOKUNAGA
March 27, 1934 – January 10, 2022
Dolly Miyoko Tokunaga passed away January 10, 2022 in Seattle at the age of 87. Born in Kent, WA on March 27, 1934, to Miyako and Arthur Hiroo, she attended Bailey Gatzert School until third grade. The family was then incarcerated at Minidoka Concentration Camp in Hunt, ID, during WWII. When the war ended, the family moved to Mesa, ID, and she attended high school in Council, ID, where she was the only Asian student for her first year. In high school, Dolly lettered in basketball and twirlers, worked on the yearbook, and became a candy striper at the local hospital. After graduation in 1952, she moved to Seattle, worked at Providence Hospital as a nurse’s aide, and attended Peterson Business College.
Dolly met Tosh, the love of her life, and they married on February 28, 1960. While raising their children, Linda, Wayne, and Julia, she became the first Japanese American to represent the Northwest as a Direct Distributor for Amway. After her youngest graduated high school, Dolly worked at Boeing until retiring in 1995. The day after she retired, she passed her state realtor exam to start “the best job I ever had,” which she continued until age 81.
Dolly loved to travel and cruise the world with Tosh. She was active in the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple and its Women’s Association. As a volunteer for Campfire Girls, she received the Shawnequas adult leadership award. She was a lifetime member of the Nisei Veterans Committee where Tosh was the commander in 1983.
Dolly enjoyed playing cards and delighted in her weekly Shanghai Rummy Card group for over 20 years. She was an avid golfer and enjoyed playing in ukulele groups. Dolly and Tosh moved to Nikkei Manor in 2017.
Dolly was preceded in death by parents Miyako and Arthur Hiroo, sister Alice Hiroo, brother Edward “Lumber” Hiroo, sister-in-law Yoshie Hiroo, and brother-in-law Mitsuo Tokunaga. She is survived by husband Toshio Tokunaga; children Linda Tokunaga, Wayne Tokunaga, Julia Tokunaga-King; son-in-law Tom King; brothers Mickey Hiroo and Robert Hiroo; sister-in-law Connie Hiroo; nieces Patty Hiroo Mastrude (Jon) and Lisa Kunihiro (Pat); and grand-niece Alysse Mastrude. The family extends their deepest gratitude to the staff at Nikkei Manor for their compassionate care and kindness.
Remembrances may be made to:
Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, 1427 South Main Street, Seattle, WA 98144
Nisei Veterans Committee, 1212 South King Street, Seattle, WA 98144
Densho, 1416 South Jackson Street, Seattle, WA 98144
Nikkei Manor Employee Fund, 700 6th Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98104
July 12, 1927 – January 22, 2022
Matsue (Nishimori) Watanabe, 94, from Bainbridge Island, WA, passed away peacefully on January 22, 2022, of natural causes. She was born on July 12, 1927, in Port Blakely, WA, to parents Tsue and Kirohachi Nishimori.
Matsue approached everything in life with tenacity and joy that energized those around her. She had an unwavering devotion to family and community and made those around her feel loved and cherished through her warm interactions and generous handmade creations — beautiful Halloween costumes, beautiful quilts, and incomparable cooking and baked goods shared with community and friends.
Like many Japanese Americans who called the West Coast home, Matsue was incarcerated at Manzanar War Relocation Center in the high desert of Owens Valley, CA, during World War II, from 1942-1944. From Manzanar, she moved to Illinois and graduated from Evanston High School in 1945. Her family returned to Bainbridge Island in 1949, and she attended business school in Seattle.
Matsue devoted much of her later life to educating younger generations about the incarceration experience through the Nisei Veterans Committee (NVC), NVC Foundation, Densho, and K-12 schools so this historic atrocity would never be repeated. She also volunteered with Rokka Ski Club and Ski School, taking care of the membership list and the newsletter.
Matsue married her life partner Samuel Watanabe on November 9, 1952. During their 63 years of marriage, they lived in Kent and Tukwila, WA. She worked for the Highline School District for 25+ years until her retirement in 1990. Matsue was fearless and dove into new challenges, remaining active throughout life — swimming one mile every day at 5:30 AM for 41 years, learning to ski at age 43, taking up golf after retirement, and often being the oldest participant in local sprint triathlons and half marathons.
Matsue was preceded in death by her parents Tsue and Kirohachi; brother Tairoku; sisters Masako Muromoto, Kiyoko Kumagai, and Sueako Yonemitsu; husband Samuel Watanabe; and daughter Naomi Kakiuchi. Matsue is survived by son Dale Watanabe (Carol Anne Yamamoto); daughter Mari Watanabe; sister Shimako Kitano; son-in-law Wayton Lim; and granddaughters Tana, Ren, and Mika.
A Celebration of Life will be held on February 23rd at 1:00 PM at the NVC Memorial Hall, 1212 S. King Street, Seattle, WA 98144. COVID protocols will be in place with all attendees required to wear face masks. Please register to attend in-person or receive the online link: HTTPS://BIT.LY/346UCV2
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the NVC (WWW.NVCFOUNDATION.ORG) or the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial (WWW.BIJAEMA.ORG.)