Life was 'so good' for 106-year-old Japanese immigrant


POSTED: Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Yoshiko Moritsugu, a widowed Japanese immigrant who raised eight children on income from picking flowers, transcended life's sorrows over her 106 years.

Moritsugu was in good health up to two weeks before she died of heart failure Saturday at the Aloha Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Kaneohe, said her daughter, Alice Arakaki.

Moritsugu kept asking about the arrival of another daughter, Florence Miyashiro, who flew in from California on Saturday evening.

“;A half-hour later she passed away. She had such a strong will. She just held on, held on. She lived a very, very happy life,”; Arakaki said.

Moritsugu was in her 20s when she sailed from Japan to marry Yasuichi Moritsugu, also an immigrant. Her husband was put in an Japanese internment camp during World War II, and died five years after his release.

Hard work was the secret to her longevity, she said in a Star-Bulletin interview in time for her 105th birthday, Sept. 1, 2007. With Arakaki interpreting, Moritsugu said she and her children rose before sunrise to pick hundreds of maunaloa flower buds by the light of kerosene lamps.

They had to rush off to school, often with no breakfast. Moritsugu would take a heavy load of flowers to lei vendors in town by taxi from Kaneohe, concluding her work by tending the flowers past midnight.

Moritsugu said, “;Life has been so good”; in spite of the struggles as a single mother, the heartbreaking loss of two of her sons, David Kenji and Hideo Moritsugu, and daughter, Terue Yamamoto; and the amputation of her left leg a few years ago.

With only a sixth-grade education, Moritsugu became a U.S. citizen at 94. She was also a member of the women's group at the Jodo Mission of Hawaii.

She is also survived by sons Toshio, Sadaji and Roy Moritsugu; 13 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

Visitation is from 5 p.m., and service is at 6 p.m. next Wednesday at Hosoi Garden Mortuary. The family requests casual attire and no flowers.