Hatsuye "Ness" Okawa Sasaki
A kind and beautiful soul departed this earth on Saturday, December 23, 2017 when Hatsuye (Okawa) Sasaki passed peacefully into the awaiting arms of her beloved husband of 60 years, Haruto (“Art”). She confided in a friend a few days before she passed that she had been talking to Art. We like to think that Art was there to assist her in her passing. If you witnessed the beautiful sunset on Christmas Day, please know that that was Ness saying good-bye.
Most knew Hatsuye as “Ness”. “Ness” is not just her Americanized name – Ness is a term of endearment in Japanese culture. It means oldest sister – the one who is responsible for taking care of, watching over and protecting her younger siblings, which she always did. When her brother Takeshi (“Taxi”) was being beaten up by the playground bully, she charged through the crowd and pulled him off of Taxi, to the amazement of her classmates, and to the great relief of Taxi. Later on when her brother Kay was starting medical school, she helped him buy his first car, even though money was tight. Hatsuye was always there for her siblings whenever they needed her help or support. She was very proud of her brothers and sisters and of their many accomplishments.
Hatsuye was born in Clearfield on July 25, 1920. She grew up in poverty on various farms near the shores of the Great Salt Lake – from Clearfield to Syracuse then Layton. At times, the family lived in a log cabin, without heat, plumbing or running water. It was a hard life, and she was expected to do all of the “boys’ jobs”, as she had many sisters, but not so many brothers. So it was up to Hatsuye and her brothers and sisters to weed the onions, top the sugar beets, and pick the tomatoes – all from a very young age, through high school and beyond. Perhaps that explains why she was such an excellent gardener. She always had the biggest brightest flowers, as well as the best beans, Japanese eggplants, and juiciest tomatoes in town. In fact her trees still produce some of the best peaches, pears and plums in the valley.
Hatsuye wanted a better life for her daughters Karen Yukari, and Yvonne “Bonnie.”
So she and Art worked long and hard – Art working three jobs most of his life, and Hatsuye working at his side in his landscaping business, throughout the long hot Utah summers, all to provide a better life for her daughters. Bonnie didn’t live to realize her potential, dying of complications from a heart defect at just 7 years of age, to her Mom’s everlasting sorrow. However, due to Hatsuye’s many sacrifices, her daughter Karen was able to earn a Masters in Pharmacology, attend medical school, and become a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, for which Karen gives her Mom full credit.
Hatsuye is survived by her daughter Karen Black and her son-in-law John; her sisters Akiko Okawa, Setsuko Ono, June Murata, Ruthe Okawa, and her brother Kay Okawa. She was preceded in death by her husband Haruto, her daughter Yvonne, her brothers Kazuo and Taxi, as well as 5 other siblings who died in childhood.
The family would like to express their appreciation to the caring staff at Pacifica Senior Living, and in particular to her personal caregiver, Latu Fanua, for helping to make the last days of Ness’ life as comfortable and dignified as possible.
Services are to be held on Friday, January 12 at the Memorial Deseret Mortuary located at 36 East 700 South in Salt Lake City, at 11:00 AM with a viewing at 10:00 AM. Please come and join Ness’ family to help celebrate the life of Hatsuye “Ness” Sasaki.