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Satoye Ruth Hashimoto (Yamada)

Birthplace: Seattle, WA, United States
Death: January 04, 2010 (96)
Albuquerque, NM, United States (natural)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Asataro (Reverend) Yamada, Sensei and Fusa (Reverend) Yamada, Sensei
Wife of Private
Mother of Ada Jane Akin; Private and Private User
Sister of Kanetada Kelly Yamada; Tomiko Yamada; Haruko (Reverend) Helen Ishiwata and Suyeo Samuel Yamada

Occupation: Citizen Diplomacy Ambassador
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About S Ruth Hashimoto Speaker inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt During a stop in Denver in 1960, Ruth Hashimoto had the good fortune to meet Eleanor Roosevelt, not for the first time but once again. Hashimoto had met the former first lady the year before and was impressed with her spirit and willingness to help others. The meetings left an impression that has been Hashimoto's calling card ever since. "She was the one person who inspired me to volunteer because I was about to throw in the towel," Hashimoto said at a talk Thursday in the Materials Science Laboratory Auditorium at Technical Area 3. Hashimoto's talk was sponsored by the Asian American Diversity Working Group as part of the Lab's celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month, which continues through next Friday. She recalled that at the time of her meetings with Eleanor Roosevelt she was married -- with three young daughters and an invalid husband -- and working full time. Yet Roosevelt's call to Americans to volunteer in their towns and communities resonated with Hashimoto. Over the years, the Seattle-born Asian American has compiled a volunteer record that speaks volumes, including working with the American-Japan Week Advisory Committee in Albuquerque; Sister Cities International; Albuquerque Kachina Greeters; Keep New Mexico Beautiful; University of New Mexico Cancer Center; United Nations Association/UNICEF; President's Initiative for International Youth Exchange; New Mexico coordinator for the Japanese Consulate General of Los Angeles; and the Japan-U.S. Senate Scholarship Committee, for which Hashimoto was chairperson for New Mexico's selection committee. Hashimoto earlier this year also agreed to serve on the Lab's Diversity External Advisory Council. During Thursday's talk, Hashimoto spoke about her younger years -- at 83 years old she shows no signs of slowing down -- growing up in California, being forced by the War Department to move with her young family and parents to a relocation camp in Wyoming and her four years teaching conversational Japanese to U.S. intelligence officers at the University of Michigan. It was the experience in the relocation camps, Hashimoto said, that today drives her to fight for human rights, something she said was taken away from thousands of Asian Americans during World War II. In the winter of 1942-43, Hashimoto's family had to endure Wyoming's 35-degree-below-zero temperatures living in barracks that had tar paper roofs. Family members, she said, were told not to open the living room door with their bare hands because their hands would become frozen on the doorknob. "I have always hated war and the misery it causes, but not the people," she said. Hashimoto and her family survived, and the following summer Hashimoto began working at the University of Michigan -- against her husband's wishes. Many of her students, she said, went on to become doctors, lawyers, college professors and chief executive officers. Some of them still write to her, she added. It wasn't until 1988, when former President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, that the grievances committed against Asian American citizens in World War II were redressed. The $20,000 the U.S. government gave Hashimoto -- along with a public apology from President Reagan -- she donated to an organization that helps educate others about what Hashimoto and other Asian Americans experienced. Still, Hashimoto will keep speaking to whoever will listen about her experiences in the hope that it won't happen again. "So many people don't know what happened," she said. "It is my sincerest wish that none of you will have to undergo what me and my family went through. "We have to make people understand that regardless of how you look, American citizens are American citizens," she continued. "We have to take a stand." Hashimoto's vitae includes being named a state Living Treasure last year; United Nation's Day chair for New Mexico, an appointment she received last year from Gov. Gary Johnson; president of Sister Cities International; Woman of the Century as proclaimed by the Columbus Day Committee of Buffalo, N.Y.; a recipient of a Human Rights Award conferred by the Albuquerque Human Rights Board in 1991; and a member of the New Mexico Women's Hall of Fame.

--Steve Sandoval

Ruth Hashimoto speaks about her childhood (sic) years growing up in a relocation camp. Hashimoto's talk Thursday in the Materials Science Laboratory Auditorium was sponsored by the Asian American Diversity Working Group as part of Asian Pacific Heritage Month at the Lab. Photo by Fred Rick

President's Award

Ms. Ruth Hashimoto Ruth Hashimoto has a long history of citizen diplomacy. Ruth started the Albuquerque sister city program in 1965 and later served on the Board of Directors for Sister Cities International. She has been an active member of the Sister Cities International Honorary Board for many years and a generous supporter of sister city programs. Last November, Ruth celebrated her 90th birthday, but she is still as active as ever. She was born in Seattle, Washington and learned the importance of humanitarian work early in life when a mentor encouraged her to help disadvantaged families. Ruth was confined to a relocation camp during World War II, but rather than discourage her, this experience only served to strengthen her civic spirit. She credits a meeting with Eleanor Roosevelt as an inspiration for volunteering with the United Nations Association. Ruth received many awards including induction into the New Mexico Women's Hall of Fame, and she is a recipient of the Japanese Government's 5th Order of the Precious Crown. Most recently, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez proclaimed September 28, 2003 as "Ruth Hashimoto Day." Each year, the president of the Board of Directors of Sister Cities International presents the President's Award to an individual or organization that has demonstrated outstanding dedication and service to the sister city mission. This year, President Gray bestows this honor on Ruth Hashimoto.

"Sister Cities, We Are One:" Grandma Ruth invited John and Dik to compose a song for the 25th Anniversary of Sister Cities International

"By the way, "Sister Cities" was written by John Denver and Dik Darnell in 1986. I believe it was recorded the very same year or shortly thereafter, most likely in the same record session when he re-recorded "Downhill Stuff" for the "Fire & Ice" soundtrack. There is the same silly-sounding synthesizer which somewhat resembles some laser shooting from "Star Wars". Thanks to my dear friend Gloria Welter from Needham, I have the sheet music and an officially released cassingle of that song, which could be bought through the Sister Cities organization. The first time I ever heard it, was in Aspen 1998, when we were in a group of six (including John Adams), starting our journey throughout the four corners states. Nice memories."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Japanese-American Worked To Build World Peace

By Lloyd Jojola (Albuquerque) Journal Staff Writer

     It was once said that Ruth Hashimoto “worked tirelessly in the name of building world peace” — her hand in forming Albuquerque's Sister Cities program of diplomacy and cultural exchange being one such endeavor.
      The Albuquerque-area resident was born in Seattle to Japanese immigrants, and during World War II she was one of thousands of Japanese-Americans confined to internment camps by the U.S. government.
      The ordeal changed her. But not the way some might think.
      “I'm not embittered against my country,” said told the Journal in 1976. “But I am bitter against war, because it's war that causes things like this.”
      Hashimoto, who had been living in a Rio Rancho residential care home since July, died on Jan. 4. She was 96.
      A memorial and celebration of life service will be held at 3 p.m. Feb. 5, at First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, 3701 Carlisle NE.
      “One of the things she believed in was to start each day with an attitude of gratefulness ... and I think that was at the very core of who she was,” said Ada Jane Akin, her eldest daughter. “She just felt a gratefulness for the life that she had and the people who surrounded her.”
      Born Satoye Yamada — she adopted the name Ruth after others had a hard time pronouncing her given name — she grew up in California.
      Hashimoto had talked about how, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, orders were given by the U.S. government to round up and relocate citizens of Japanese descent, among them those in the zone that included the western halves of California, Oregon and Washington.
      “My dad was picked up in late March 1942 and handcuffed; he was not allowed to change into his suit from the tattered work clothes he was wearing while painting the church fence,” Hashimoto said during a 1989 talk at First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque. “Mother never forgave the FBI for that — she was so mad she cried.”
      Her father would be sent to a camp in Lordsburg and then to one in Santa Fe.
      Hashimoto and her family, including her husband, Denichi Hashimoto, whom she married in 1936, two of their children and her mother, were part of the last group to leave the Santa Anita, Calif., racetrack for the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming.
      “As we got off the train, we were bused into the barbed wire compound in the middle of a blizzard, the first snow on September 18, 1942,” Hashimoto said in 1989. “Many of us shed bitter tears when we saw what a desolate, bleak place we were to call 'home.' ”
      Hashimoto in time assumed a leadership position at the camp, that of “block manager,” helping to establish such things as schools, canteens and recreational activities, and by June 1943 she was asked to consider being an instructor with the Navy Intelligence Language School in Boulder, Colo.
      Hashimoto's husband, who had been raised in Japan, had other ideas.
      “He was convinced that my mother would be shot as a traitor after the Japanese won the war,” Akin said in an interview. “So the first time she had an opportunity to do this kind of work outside the camp, he forbade her to leave. ... I was very young at that time, but I still remember seeing an image of my father chasing my mother around with a broom because he was trying to force her to stay.”
      Ruth Hashimoto, three months later, was interviewed and recruited for a Army Intelligence Language School at the University of Michigan.
      “Only two of us were selected,” she said in 1989. “Since opportunity does not knock that often and since I was determined to raise my children in the American way, removed from the confinement a concentration camp, I accepted the position over my husband's strong objections.”
      At the school she taught Japanese to American members of the military, and reunited with her husband after the war.
      For about five years, after the war, Hashimoto was a civil service worker at Moffett Field Naval Air Station in California. She moved to Albuquerque in early 1951.
      “She started as a clerk typist at Kirtland Air Force Base and worked her way up into management,” Akin said.
      In 1973, she retired as equipment management branch chief in the 4907th Supply Squadron of the Special Weapons Center at Kirtland.
      Hashimoto's daughter said her mother's civic, community work spanned her lifetime, starting when she was about 17 and working as a secretary for the grade school she had attended as a child in Seattle. Hashimoto essentially acted as an interpreter between school officials and Japanese immigrant families.
      After the war, as well, she taught first-generation Japanese immigrants and the Japanese wives of military men the English language and taught citizenship classes.
      “She became interested in the (United Nations) Association and that's where she met Eleanor Roosevelt several times and Eleanor Roosevelt inspired her to more volunteerism,” Akin said.
      Hashimoto initiated Albuquerque's involvement in the Sister Cities program in 1965 and was named chairwoman and charter member of the Albuquerque-Sasebo (Japan) Sister City Committee.
      Patrick Madden, president and CEO of Sister Cities International, in a recent blog post, called Hashimoto “a legendary figure in our organization.”
      In 2007, the Sister Cities International Ruth Hashimoto Award was first presented, an honor given to those who have made significant contributions to the organization.
      Hashimoto started the New Mexico chapter of the United Nations Association, her family said, and she held such positions as state director for UNICEF, liaison to the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles, president of the Albuquerque JACL (Japanese American Citizens League) and president of the Museum of Albuquerque Association. She also became a volunteer for the Alliance for Transportation Research Institute.
      Among Hashimoto's many honors or awards: the Sister Cities International President's Award (2004), the New Mexico Women's Hall of Fame (1989), Living Treasurer of New Mexico (1996), Senior Citizens Hall of Fame (1987), the New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Award (1971) and the JACL Humanitarian Award (1963).
      Hashimoto was preceded in death by her husband, Denichi. Her survivors include her sister, Haruko Helen Ishiwata of San Jose, Calif.; three daughters, Ada Jane Akin of Rio Rancho, Ada May Baniszewski of Northglenn, Colo., and Melanie Overton of Albuquerque; 11 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and a great-great-grandson.
      Contributions can be made to: Albuquerque Sister Cities Foundation, PO Box 26533, Albuquerque, NM 87125-6533, or New Mexico JACL, c/o Steve Togami, 27 Cedar Avenue, Los Lunas, NM, 87031.
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S Ruth Hashimoto's Timeline

November 10, 1913
Seattle, WA, United States
January 4, 2010
Age 96
Albuquerque, NM, United States