FEB. 9, 1929 — DEC. 14, 2020
Chapter 1 (Coming to America)
Mitsu Ann Ogami (Toyoda) was born on February 9, 1929 in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. During the War years, she often recalled the need to be frugal. Food, clothing, and all consumer products were difficult to obtain. During the occupation years, the Toyoda family hosted the Anderson family. Mr. Anderson was an executive of the American Red Cross. His daughter Shirley and Mitsu became best friends and often referred to each other as sisters.
Shirley shared her love of America and adventure with Mitsu and a scheme was hatched for the Andersons to host Mitsu when they returned to America. Challenging conversations were held and eventually Mr. Toyoda relented. Mitsu would travel to Seattle, attend school, stay with the Anderson family, and return home in one year.
Chapter 2 (Courtship and marriage)
During that eventful year, three young men saw Mitsu entering a Seattle department store. One of the men was a Seattle native living in Weiser, Idaho. He told the others, “I am going to marry that girl.”
The race was on to learn her name, arrange an introduction, and make the Weiser-Seattle drive every week to court Mitsu. She eventually said yes to marriage, but Jack never stopped courting Mitsu.
The wedding took place on August 5, 1954 in Seattle. They honeymooned on the coast and made their first home in Weiser renting a bungalow where McDonalds now stands.
Chapter 3 (Children and home)
Christina was born in June 1955, Marie in September 1956, Jack Jr. in February 1958, and Roger in June 1960. Shortly after Marie was born, the family move to a large, old house on Commercial Street.
Mitsu learned to manage a large house. One of the first tasks was cooking. In Japan, the family maid did all the cooking. Mrs. Gibbs (trusted friend and neighbor) volunteered to teach Mitsu all she knew about cooking. Savory dishes abound and people from Montana would feel right at home (Mrs. Gibbs was from Montana). Mitsu’s father was in the construction business and it wasn’t long before she convinced Mr. Gibbs to teach her how to re-shingle a roof (two story house), interior/exterior painting, laying tile, and fixing plumbing.
Her garden was bountiful and she had a large area for lavender/purple Iris. These were reserved for the St. Agnes Church. On Friday afternoons before the kids returned from school, she decorated the church alter and eventually was asked to join the Parish council.
In the early 1960’s Mitsu convinced Jack to teach her how to drive as the kids were starting school. Car pools, PTA, class-room mom, chili chowder carnival chair, swim team, diving team, and Girl Scout leader were a few of the many roles she gladly volunteered for.
She taught her Girl Scouts how to dance, arranged for summer day camp on the Kirk Ranch and Memorial Park, and made sure every girl could attend summer camp by selling Girl Scout cookies.
Her math, science and memory skills were incredible and she made sure all of her children understood school came before play, but both were important.
The 1964 winter Olympics were held in Tokyo. Mitsu was inspired to share her love of skiing with her kids. She came home one day with 3 pair of sunglasses (sorry Roger) and announced a ski trip to Brundage Mountain. For the next decade, Thanksgiving marked the start of ski season with Mitsu making sandwiches every Friday and Saturday night. Making breakfast, packing-up the family, spending the day skiing, returning home to start dinner and then off to Saturday night mass and start all over again Sunday Morning. The family’s love of skiing would extend 60 years and Mitsu would often comment she wanted one more day on the hill.
Chapter 4 (Leadership and business)
With all kids in school, Mitsu decided to help Jack at the Idaho Bag Company (family business). Mitsu was familiar with business management skills as her father (Hajime) was COO of a local building company in Japan. At Idaho Bag Company she started with bookkeeping. Mitsu streamlined everything and found time to improve every other role in the business and eventually became CEO when Jack retired in 1985. Mitsu continued to successfully run the business until she retired in 2012.
About the same time as she introduced her family to skiing, Mitsu encouraged Jack to pick a civic organization and start giving back time to the community. He chose the Lions Club and Mitsu was 100% behind him with encouragement and willingness to help.
Together they volunteered to lead the Lions Club concession efforts in Weiser and sold several hundred thousand hotdogs, burgers, drinks, popcorn and cotton candy at football games, rodeos and the Fiddle Festival. As the daughter of a politician, she helped Jack campaign for Lions District 39E Governor. His win in 1976 included an invitation to their first Lions International convention in Hawaii. They continued to attend International Conventions for the next 30 years and visited exotic places throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America.
In 1987, the Lions Club amended their by-laws to allow women to join. Mitsu was the first woman to join the Weiser Lions Club and was the first to hold every leadership position in the club and was asked by the District Governor to join the 39E Leadership Team.
Chapter 5 (Hobbies and fun)
Mitsu enjoyed any sport or activity involving Jack or her children (except golf). These included bowling, fishing, skiing, swimming, grandchild sports, etc.
Her personal interests included shopping at any major department store, travel, knitting/crochet, classical music, and McDonalds.
Chapter 6 (Returning home)
On December 14, 2020 Mitsu’s year in America ended and she was called home.
Mitsu’s relatives in America: Jack passed away June 15, 2015. He celebrated his 98th birthday with Mitsu on December 14th 2020. Christina Hutchinson (Edwin) – Shelbyville, TN. Michele, Danny, Marie Young (Richard) – Weiser, ID, Stephanie, Dawn, Jack Jr. Ogami (Melody) – Salem, OR, Erika, Ian, Roger Ogami (Shelly) – Boise, ID, Nicholas, Brock.
Mitsuko’s relatives in Japan: Minoru — deceased, older brother and father of Yutaka, Kaneko — living, elder sister, Yasuko — deceased, younger sister, Hajime Toyoda — deceased, Mitsuko’s father, COO of Moriya Shokai Co., Ltd. (General Construction Company) and member of Nagano City Assembly. Chika Kubota Toyoda – deceased, Mitsuko’s mother.