A life well-lived by Hiroko Kusaba Tominaga came to a close peacefully at her home in Paul, Idaho on December 14, 2019. She was 97 years young. Hiroko was born May 4, 1922 in Susie, Wyoming.
Daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, and friend – Hiroko was a woman whose life was defined by her service to family and the friends whom she held as close as family. She was quiet, sometimes shy; a private person and a hard worker; strong and determined; someone who offered the best of herself to the people she loved.
Hiroko was the third of four children born to Hanshiro and Naka (Kinoshita) Kusaba of Fukuoka, Japan. Her father was a section foreman for the Union Pacific Railroad and her mother was a mid-wife. Growing up in Wyoming, her childhood memories included spending the summer in places like Minidoka, Idaho or wherever her father was working; attending Japanese school after her regular classes; and playing clarinet in the high school marching band. In Wyoming, that included marching at rodeos while dodging cow pies. A fond memory was marching in the Pioneer Day parade in Salt Lake City.
Hiroko graduated from Cokeville High School in 1941. She was studying bookkeeping at the LDS Business College in Salt Lake City when World War II broke out. Like other Nisei (2nd generation Japanese) she returned home to help her family. Because of the war, her father lost his job on the railroad; her family’s life’s savings were tied up in a Japanese bank in California; and they were asked to leave their home. To help support her family, she and her sister, Mieko, moved to Salt Lake, and worked for Eagle Laundry which was one of the few businesses hiring Japanese Americans. She later worked for Tooele Army Depot in Utah.
In Salt Lake City, she met her husband, Sam Haruo Tominaga. Sam enlisted in the army and was sent overseas to Germany. When he returned home, they were married on October 31, 1946 in Salt Lake City, Utah. They moved to Blackfoot where Hiroko learned to farm – raising chickens and pigs, growing a garden, and starting a family of four – Aileen, Larry, Lynn, and Peggy.
Eventually, Sam and Hiroko purchased a farm in Paul, Idaho. She worked in the fields every day. Even when it was hard, she never complained. When Sam died suddenly in 1972, there was a family to support and a crop to harvest. She ran the farm with her son, Larry, who had just graduated from college. Working together, the family made sure Lynn and Peggy graduated from college. Later in life she enjoyed being a grandparent and great-grandparent. She loved spending time with them and was devoted to their success. Some favorite memories of the grandchildren with Hiroko include flying kites on the farm, catching tadpoles, lighting fireworks, riding the four-wheeler, playing board games, and enjoying her homemade noodles, cookies, pies, and desserts. She also loved raising a big garden, reading, sewing, cooking, crocheting, crafting, and crossword puzzles.
She is survived by son Lynn (Brenda) Tominaga, Boise; daughter Peggy (Alan) Goodman, Rupert; grandchildren Andrew (Melissa) Tominaga, Wilsonville, Oregon; Robert Goodman, Rupert; Michiko Stas, Brooklyn, New York; Scott (Maria) Goodman, Heyburn; and Anna (Alex) Nishikawa, Lynnwood, Washington; great-grandchildren Charlotte, Raymond, Caitlyn and Kyle; She was preceded in death by her husband Sam; children Aileen Tominaga Stas and Larry Tominaga; son-in-law Mike Stas; siblings Fumiko, Takaharu, Mieko and their spouses; and her parents.
The family would like to give special thanks to Judy Sperry and Valerie Vale who helped care for Hiroko in her home with love and compassion along with the amazing nurses, aides, staff, and volunteers at Intermountain Homecare and Hospice. Their loving care allowed Hiroko to remain in her home which meant the world to her.
Funeral services will be held December 28, 2019 (Saturday) at 11:00 a.m. at the Paul United Methodist Church at 127 West Clark Street in Paul, Idaho. A viewing will be held starting at 10:00 a.m. prior to the funeral. Services will conclude with burial in the Paul Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Joel Heward Hansen Mortuary in Rupert, Idaho.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Paul United Methodist Church at P.O. Box 35 in Paul, Idaho 83347.
In life and death, we will remember her, remember the gifts she gave us - gifts from her hands and heart, and the example of love and selflessness that she set before us. “...her children arise and call her blessed…honor her for all that her hands have done.” (Proverbs 31:28 and 31).
To send flowers to HIROKO's family, please visit our floral section.