Masaye (Suda) Mayeno

Brick #2018   Wall Location  Column: 85   Row: 22

Masaye came to the USA from Osaka, Japan, in 1920 at age 17 under the sponsorship of Aunt and Uncle Kaita and worked at the Maneki Restaurant. She also attended English language classes.

She married Kunizo Mayeno, who was a merchant at the Public Market, a few years later. They have 4 children.

She walked to work for many years as a seamstress at the Seattle Glove Company on 12th Avenue. In addition, she had regular household and parenting duties, which kept her very busy.

Because of his activities in the Nikkei community, Kunizo was incarcerated on the night of December 7, 1942, when WW2 started with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was unable to join the family until nearly the end of the war.

To prepare for the evacuation, Masaye carried on as a single parent, and the family pitched in to sell or dispose of all the possessions that could not be stored. The family was sent to the Puyallup Assembly Center, Area C, in May, 1942, and later to the Minidoka Relocation Center, Block 22, in Idaho.

Despite the dust, mud, and primitive living conditions in the camp, she was one of the few people who enjoyed an easier, relaxed life there, compared to her previous strenuous life she had had in Seattle! She developed new skills in crochet, flower arrangement, and embroidery.

After her husband reunited with the family at Minidoka, they returned to Seattle in 1945. Masaye was able to find work again as a seamstress, and Kunizo started an employment office.

After days of intense study, on December 28, 1953, Msaye became a U. S. citizen. Her earlier English language lessons proved to be helpful.

In May, 1972, at age 87, her husband, Kunizo, passed away from pneumonia and complications of a stroke. Partially paralyzed, he required much care which Masaye lovingly provided for years.

Because of the encouragement of the Fujinkai and the good witness of daughter, Nancy, Masaye started to attend the Japanese Presbyterian Church and was baptized on November 19, 1972. Their support helped her to live a long, useful life, including regular church attendance and Bible study. Her favorite hymns, which she knew by heart, were "What A Friend We Have in Jesus" and "Jesus Loves Me."

Her interest in flower arrangement led to the growing of many flowers and shrubs which she generously shared with others. In May, 1977, she completed the 2nd Degree of the Masters Course of the Ohara Flower Arrangement School. She taught it for many years.

Masaye was an excellent cook of Japanese foods. The entire family looked forward to the delicious New Year's Day feast which she prepared each year. She always made an extra amount to share with less fortunate friends.

In an interview by daughter Dorothy in 1983, she was asked "What advice would you like to pass on to your grandchildren?" Masaye replied, "Study hard. Be honest and kind to each other, believe in God and be good Christians." Then Dorothy asked Masaye "Did you have a closing statement?" Masaye said, "I give my thanks to God for wonderful children and wonderful grandchildren."

Masaye suffered from hip surgery and bouts of pneumonia in her later years. Through it all, she managed to stay active, mainly because of Nancy's excellent care. When Masaye would go in for her physical checkup, the doctor, impressed by her good health, would always tell Nancy, "Just keep on doing what you've been doing."

As she became less able to walk, she watched a lot of television. Her favorite programs were garden shows, "Wheel of Fortune," and Sumo wresting, and she usually sympathized with the losers.

Masaye enjoyed singing, especially the Meiji era Japanese songs. At the Kokorokai Adult Day Care, during Sing-a-Long time, she would sing the words ahead of the music, but somehow managed to finish at the right time!

Just before her 100th birthday, she was hospitalized with pneumonia. She was later transferred to Seattle Keiro where treatments were continued. The family celebrated her 100th birthday there. It was a happy occasion for her with a retrospective slide show of her good life, produced by Grandson John Mayeno.

Masaye went to be with her Lord on the morning of Friday, May 31, 2002. Son Arthur wrote a poem in her memory which was read by one of his daughters, Reiko, at Masaye's Memorial Service:

Before the 2nd World War
Jim and I would go fishing
off of the piers by the bay;
with our hand held lines
wrapped around a stick.
Sometimes my line would get hopelessly tangled
and I'd bring the mess home to you.
Next morning the line would be untangled
wrapped neatly on the stick.

Masaye didn't give hugs or kisses,
to her children (or anyone else),
but the love that she had for us
shown through loud and clear.
It formed the solid foundation,
upon which her children built their various lives.

If anyone deserves a rest
certainly it is you.
For all the years of toil and strife,
and for always being there
to hep untangle our problems,
thank you Masaye,
Rest in Peace.

She is survived by her four children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

  • Minidoka
Brick Donors
  • Nancy Ayako Mayeno