October 1, 1922 - July 21, 2023
In Loving Memory ~
On July 1st, 150 friends and relatives gathered at Spring Cove to celebrate Mary's 100/101 birthdays. It was a wonderful gathering on a beautiful day for this amazing woman. In her words, "It was perfect!" Mary suffered a debilitating stroke on July 10th. She passed away peacefully, surrounded by the love of her family, July 21st.
Born in Vancouver on October 1, 1922, Mary faced early challenges when her father passed away, leading her and her siblings to leave school to help support the family. She fondly recalled her first job at the fish plant in Nootka when she was just 14. Her mother operated a Japanese grocery store on Powell Street. When she learned of the evacuation of Japanese people from the West Coast in 1942 she hired a truck, packed up the contents of the store and headed for the Okanagan where they found work on a fruit farm.
When Mary and Tommy were married in 1944 they were forced to move east of the Rockies due to restrictions. They chose Ontario where other members of the family were established. As soon as the ban was lifted and the Japanese were allowed to return to the West Coast, Tommy began negotiating for the Japanese fishermen.
They drove across the country in the fall of 1950 with their two small children. Shortly after their return they were able to buy the property at Spring Cove. They knew they wanted to be part of the community, so Mary and Isabel joined the school PAC and found jobs in the community.
Mary's first job was behind the butcher counter in the Co-op store. Later filleting in fish plants. She and Isabel also ran a catering business. They continued to be very involved in the community throughout their lives.
One of the events that brought the community together was the annual Fisherman's Ball. An event with the most amazing food, a live band and a dance. Mary was known for her Octopus Salad.
Mary was a founding member of the Historical Society, attending meetings up until recently. It was her dream to see the museum with the First Nations become a reality.
Mary was the 2011 Ucluelet Citizen of the Year. In October 2019, she received the Governor-General Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers for the many years she had devoted to bettering Ucluelet. She was honoured by the Ucluelet and Area Historical Society with a bench tribute at the Amphitrite Point Lighthouse on her 100th birthday.
Mary is predeceased by her husband Tommy (1985), her sons Gordie (2010) and Dougie (2021), her siblings and all her sisters and brothers in law.
She is survived by her grandsons, Katsumi (Jiali), Akio (Soowon) and Masaru; her great grandchildren Mari Jin, Keira, Ryu and Mila; her daughter-in-law Dell; many nieces and nephews, their children and grandchildren.
The family would like to extend heartfelt gratitude to all of her caretakers, from family members and grandsons, close friends and neighbours, to the Community Health Services West Coast team of nurses in Ucluelet, as well as the doctors and staff at Tofino Hospital for their exceptional care and support over many years.
Mary did not wish a funeral or memorial service. She felt she had her Celebration of Life on July 1st. She was fortunately able to be there. Many thanks to her dear friends who helped make it a resounding success.
In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation to the Ucluelet Food Bank on the Edge or the Ucluelet and Area Historical Society.
Mary Kimoto touched the lives of many and leaves behind a legacy of love, community spirit, and dedication that will forever be cherished.
May her memory be a guiding light for all who knew her.