OBITUARY: Miye Baba

BABA, MIYE passed away peacefully, March 14, 2012, at the age of 89. She was born Miyeko Kato, youngest of five, to Rinbei and Kiwa (Otsuji) Kato in Alamo, Calif., on September 25, 1922. She lived most of her childhood in the coastal towns of Pescadero and Half Moon Bay.

Miye met and married Nobuzo Baba of Turlock in 1945, while both were in the Amache internment camp in Colorado. They were able to return to his family home in the Japanese farming settlement of Cortez, just outside of Turlock. Miye and Nobuzo became the proud parents of daughters Shirley, Bonnie and Nancy. During her daughters’ childhood, Miye was very active in a number of local organizations and worked in the orchard during harvest season. Her creativity was highlighted by the beautiful and intricate costumes she sewed for her daughters while they were dancers.

After her daughters were married, Miye enjoyed landscaping their garden, growing and potting bonsai, cooking homemade manju, mochi, tofu and sushi, and keeping up a lifetime interest in crafts and making greeting cards.

In 1990, Miye began a small karaoke group of friends in Cortez; finding music, making cassette tape copies, and printing songbooks of the Japanese songs they remembered from pre-WWII years. Interestingly enough, many of the singers were Nisei who never learned how to speak Japanese. Miye remained very active with the Cortez Karaoke Singers, leading them through performances at the University of California, Merced, California State University, Stanislaus, local cultural fairs and Buddhist churches in Stockton and Sebastopol. The last performance she led was the 2012 New Year’s luncheon for the Cortez Shin Wa Kai senior citizens group in January. She told her daughters that she considered herself very lucky to be so active in her 89th year. Her daughters wore bright colors at her service as she had requested, in celebration of the life she had.

Miye was preceded in death by her husband, Nobuzo, after 56 years of marriage. She is survived by her loving daughters and sons-in-law, Lawrence Frice, Charles Stanfield and Bill Wilson, her four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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