Yasuko, daughter of Fusa and Toichi Nishi, and one of 5 sisters and a brother, was born in Holtville, California, a small town in the Imperial Valley. Her father, was a very successful farmer and broker. During the hot summers the family would stay in San Diego. As the onset of WWII loomed closer, her father became more and more concerned about the racist, anti-Japanese rhetoric in the newspapers. Because of his success as a farmer, Yasuko’s father, at age 39, decided it was best to “retire” and move the family to Kagoshima, Japan. So Yasuko grew up in Kagoshima during the war and witnessed some of the horrors of the war first hand. An excellent student, she was accepted by the prestigious Konan Koko, a college preparatory high school in Kagoshima. After the end of the war, the family decided to return to the USA and by 1956 had settled in Chicago. Recognizing that she needed to improve her skills in English, she enrolled in the YMCA high school from which she graduated. Searching for a career to pursue, Yasuko decided to become a hairdresser and excelled. She became very popular and had customers who travelled from as far away as Milwaukee to the beauty shop in downtown Chicago.
Yasuko met her future husband, Ed Horiuchi, soon after arriving from Japan and they eventually married in 1962 at the Buddhist Temple of Chicago by Rev Kubose. She raised two daughters, Linda and Sharon in Skokie, Illinois, and has four grandchildren. Her grandkids remember her challenging them to play ping-pong at which she was very skilled.
Yasuko and Abigail, 2007
Yasuko was known among her friends and family as someone who excelled in craft and also as someone who had a “green thumb”. She loved flowers and her flower gardens were always considered to be a showcase. Yasuko’s cooking skills were legendary. Her grandkids can still remember her Japanese dishes like onigiri, miso shiru and tempura, which they loved. She would cook for 4 days preparing traditional Japanese dishes for New Years Day. Presentation was everything. Growing up in Japan, she learned her cooking skills spending summers with her grandmother who had a catering business. It was not unusual for 30 to 40 people to come and enjoy her cooking on holidays.
In 1987, Ed was transferred from Chicago to Phoenix, Arizona and retired in 2001. After retirement, Ed & Yasuko spent a lot of time travelling and spent much of their time with the grandkids in Chicago. Loving her grandkids, she wanted to be part of their life as they grew up. Married for 48-1/2 years, Yasuko was a great wife, a wonderful mother, and an enduring example for the grandkids.