Yoshiko Shigematsu

September 4th, 2021

Our beloved mother, Yoshiko Shigematsu passed away at her home in Vancouver on September 4, 2021 surrounded by love - encircled by her children and grandchildren.

In July 2021, we were shocked to learn that she had been diagnosed with metastatic/terminal cancer. The sisters flew to Vancouver immediately to be with her and care for her in this last stage of life, as mom wanted to be at home surrounded by family. Her five children were blessed to have the opportunity to spend these final weeks of life with her. Despite her condition, until her last days, she remained in good spirits.

Our mother was loved by so many, and always saw the positive in any situation. Anyone who was fortunate enough to have known her will agree that she was a beautiful person, quick to laugh, and brought light into people’s hearts. She was a woman of genuine humility, never wanting to show off her formidable intellect, but had endless curiosity, deep faith in God, and boundless generosity.

She was born in Osaka, Japan in 1935 and despite experiencing deprivation as a child during WWII she did not grow embittered. She loved Takarazuka (Japanese musical theatre) and was a softball pitcher. 

She was determined to study abroad and told her father that she would swim across the Pacific if he tried to stop her. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1960. After returning to Japan, she met Akira who had become friends of the family when he studied at Keio University. He taught her how to drive. Yoshiko told her mother she wanted to marry him and her mom was the “go-between.” 

They married in 1961 and then returned to North America to study at Columbia University in New York, as newlyweds. She became a language teacher and obtained two Masters Degrees. She raised her five children across three continents moving from Tokyo to London (1969) to Vancouver (1974).

The family subsequently moved to Montreal in 1988. She exercised on a daily basis, jogging, swimming or walking for an hour. A woman of great faith, she was known to her children and friends to be a prayer warrior and since 1997 joyfully served in the hospitality ministry at Tenth Church. 

Yoshiko is survived by her five children, their spouses and eight grandchildren. Rié (Ron & Danielle), Ken (Sakiko & Joey), Setsu (Dylan, Taer & Saya), Hana (Eric, Jules & Ethan) and Tetsuro (Bahareh, Mika & Taizo).

We miss you dearly, but what a gift it has been to know and love you. We look forward to meeting you again. 


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