Joan Barsotti, an author and philanthropist whose historical fiction novel “Okei-san: The Girl from Wakamatsu” chronicled the famed member of the ill-fated Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony in Placer County, Calif., died Aug. 29, 2010 at her family home in Camino, Calif., the Mountain Democrat reports. She was 70.

The Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony, established in 1869 near Gold Hill, Calif., is considered the first sizeable settlement of Japanese in America. The book “Okei-san,” published in 2006 by Barsotti Publishing, is based upon the teenager Okei — said to be the first Issei woman to die in America.

“She was a great, great supporter of the Wakamatsu Colony” who voluntarily talked about Okei and the colony to schools, said Fred Kochi, president of the Gold Hill-Wakamatsu Colony, a group seeking to preserve the history of the group. “She wanted everyone to know about Okei-san,” he said. “It’s a big, big loss.”

Barsotti is survived by her husband Gael and their three children. Services will be on Tues., Sept. 7, at 11:30 a.m., at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 3109 Sacramento St., Placerville, Calif.

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