February 1, 1933 – January 1, 2023
Masuko passed away peacefully at home on New Year’s Day surrounded by family.
Predeceased by son Roland, parents Shigefuji and Satsuki Tanaka, siblings Tokuko (Kenichi), Hitoshi (Setsuko), Kiyoshi (Sumiko) and Shigemi (Morimasa), she is survived by husband Shoichiro John, son Charles, daughter Marina (Maciek) and grandchildren Eva and Lauren Kamimura and Alex and Sonia Kon in Canada, and nephews, nieces and their families in Japan.
Masuko was born in Miyazaki, Japan, the youngest of five. With a degree in English Literature from Japan Women’s University in Tokyo, she landed in Vancouver in 1954 as part of the Consul General of Japan’s family, to teach English and care for the children, improve her own English and spread her wings.
After meeting John at UBC, Masuko left her life in Japan to become the wife of a second-generation forester. She and John eventually settled in Hope, BC, raising three children and overseeing Allison Pass Sawmills.
Masuko instilled her appreciation of both Japanese and Western culture in the next generations, from passing on Japanese customs and traditions, to insisting all take up instruments and join her at the symphony, singing opera and playing piano herself through her final days.
Similarly she instilled her sense of curiosity and adventure, taking the family to warmer climates in the winter and exploring North America, Europe and Asia with John.
The life of the party, Masuko and John’s house was always filled with friends, neighbours and colleagues. Athletic and quick despite her 4′-10″, she golfed, curled, even pitched to the grandchildren. When back and lung issues set in, Baaba led the sideline cheering.
While dementia curbed her later activities Masuko maintained her mischievous spirit to the very end, keeping generations of friends and strangers alike on their toes with her sharp wit, leaving an impression wherever she went.
The family would like to thank all the physicians – including UBC’s Dr. Haakon Nygaard and the staff of the Pacific Lung Health Centre – pharmacists, friends and relatives that helped make her last years more comfortable.
A Memorial Service and Celebration of Life will be held in the spring. In lieu of Koden or flowers, kindly consider a donation to the UBC Alzheimer’s program.
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