Mitsu F. Kato
Mitsu F. Kato

Kato, Mitsu F., 106, passed away on April 2, 2013, just one month and a day after her birthday. She was born in Walnut Grove, Calif. on March 1, 1907 to Niichi and Miwa Noyoshi Tatsuda. She graduated from the University of California, San Francisco School of Pharmacy in 1929 and married Shigeo Kato (USC School of Pharmacy) in 1931. With the exception of three years of internment in Amache, Colorado during WWII, they lived in Walnut Grove where they owned and operated Ben’s Drug Store, founded in 1907 by her parents, until their retirement in 1977 when they moved to Seattle.

The Katos were pillars of their community and active members of the Walnut Grove Buddhist Church where Mitsu served as organist and Kawashimo Fujinkai officer. She was an ardent student of Omotesenke Tea Ceremony and earned the rank of Chiho Koshi (instructor level certification) under the tutelage of her teacher, Mrs. Etsuko Sugiyama of Sacramento.

She thrived in her retirement years in Seattle by auditing University of Washington courses as an Access student well into her 80s and was a member of the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple and its choir. She moved to Nikkei Manor and continued to participate in activities, notably excelling in the game of hyakunin isshu, an ancient Japanese game requiring the memorization of “100 poems from 100 poets.” Just a month before her 106th birthday, she was the champion of Nikkei Manor’s hyakunin isshu tournament. She credited her long, active and full life to her passion for learning.

Mitsu was preceded in death by her husband Shigeo. She is survived by her sisters, Grace Akahoshi of San Jose and Elsie Kagehiro of Tracy; her daughters, Shigemi Kato of Los Angeles and Hiromi Lorraine Sakata (Tom) of Seattle; her grandson Cuong Sakata (Nicolette) and great-granddaughter Kasey Sakata of Seattle. A memorial service will be held at the Sacramento Buddhist Temple on Saturday, June 1, 2013 at 2 p.m.

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