Toyoko "Georgette" Yoshikai
June 28, 1926 - March 18, 2020
Toyoko “Toy” Georgette Yoshikai died peacefully late Wednesday morning in her bed at Oatfield Estates.
She was born in Duvall, Washington, the middle child of seven, to Japanese immigrant parents Gonzo and Ishi Motomatsu in, fittingly, the year of the tiger in the Chinese zodiac. While her parents were not allowed to own property or become U.S. citizens, Georgette's family in the all-white town of Duvall was well connected in the close-knit community, and Georgette would often be found participating in games of sports like football with her siblings or climbing trees. In 1941, events during WWII led to the family’s forced relocation to the Japanese internment camp at Tule Lake, California, where they could take with them only what they could carry in shaded train cars, guarded by rifle-carrying soldiers. Despite that, 15-year-old Georgette and family truly believed that “God was always watching us,” and so they had very little fear. Georgette found work in a camp hospital that paid her $8 per month, and spent time with her friends as she continued highschool, becoming leader of the yell team where she earned herself the nickname of “dynamite.” It was also here that Georgette met her future husband Tom Yoshikai, one of the “handsome Yoshikai brothers,” who then served in the 442 nd Regimental Combat Team in Italy.. After WWII, the family went to Emmett, Idaho to perform farm labor until they were allowed to return to Olympia, Washington where they found work in the oyster industry in Puget Sound. Georgette attended nursing school at Tacoma General Hospital, until she contracted rheumatic fever and was forced to stay in bed and restrict activity. After 6 months the normally active Georgette begged her physician to clear her for moderate activity. She was allowed to attend business school and worked for the public health department in Thurston County. She always kept her positive disposition, and found not only that she learned many new things in her new job, but also that much was based on her work in the healthcare field during her incarceration in WWII. Georgette reconnected with Tom Yoshikai in 1959, who drove his Volkswagen up to Olympia from Salem every weekend to see her. The couple married in 1960, and settled down together in Salem, where they had their only child, Victoria, in 1961.
Georgette was an avid gardener, and both she and Tom were loving and devoted parents, active in their community and in the United Methodist Church, where many remember the pair as a beacon of good will and hospitality, until Tom’s passing in 2007. Georgette visited her sisters and brothers in Olympia, and her daughter’s family in Maryland whenever possible, carrying with her a daily attitude which she called “F.R.O.G.,” meaning ‘Fully Rely On God.”
Georgette was a spirited and loving wife, mother, grandmother, neighbor, and friend. She was adventurous and quick both to kindness and gratitude, and remained strong in her faith, even when faced with eyesight and hearing loss later in life,. Her warm smile and brave, go-getter personality will be missed by all. Preceded in death by sisters Toshiko Motomatsu and Tomuko (Marilyn) Akita, brothers Hisashi (Joe) and Akila (Aki) Motomatsu, sisters in law Yoshie and Lillie, brother in law Henry (Chim) Yoshikai, and husband of 47 years Tom Tsuneo Yoshikai, Georgette is survived by sister Nancy Motomatsu (Olympia, WA), brother Yasuo (Henry) (Glendale, AZ), daughter Victoria Yoshikai Moon, grandson Thomas Moon (Derwood, MD),
and several nieces and nephews.
A celebration of Georgette’s life will be held at a later date at Epworth United Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon. In the meantime, as Georgette always did, smile and wave, and remember to stop to smell the roses.
An extra thank you to all the friends, family and caregivers who helped to make Toy’s last years enjoyable, and full of love.
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