Cover photo for Tomiye Ishimatsu's Obituary
1919 Tomiye 2022

Tomiye Ishimatsu

June 12, 1919 — April 10, 2022

Salt Lake City, UT— Tomiye Ishimatsu died two months

before her 103rd birthday on April 10, 2022. She was born

in Sunnyside, Utah to Fujie Sakata and Otoichiro Ishimatsu of

Fukuoka, Japan.

She was a graduate of the Holy Cross Hospital Nursing

Program and received her R.N. She earned her Bachelor’s

degree in Nursing from Marquette University in Milwaukee,

Wisconsin. She received her Master’s degree in Health

Management from the University of Utah. She later got her

PhD in Healthcare Management from the University of Utah

(thesis pending). Tomiye was an Associate Professor at the

University of Utah College of Nursing.

She is survived by her sister Chizuko and nephews and

nieces: Buntaro Kit (Darylee), Christopher, Emily (Gabriel), and

Erik (Alyssa).

She was the first non-white to be appointed to the Registrar’s

Office for Nursing by Governor J. Bracken Lee (R) from Price.

She designed the certification test for the R.N. programs in

Utah and served on many health boards for Governors Rampton

and Matheson. She was a president of the Utah Nursing

Association. Later, the American Nursing Association tapped

her to design the pediatrics testing questions nationwide.

While at the University of Utah, she and Janet Hassell designed

an off- campus nursing program at Weber State University.

Tomiye started her professional career as a surgical nurse for

Dr. Paul S. Richards at Bingham Canyon Hospital. He became

her mentor.

She created the starter program for pediatrics, Master’s in

Nursing, and the PhD program in Nursing at the University of

Utah. Her colleague, Sue Fajiki, started the Master’s program

in Psychiatric Nursing. Sue was not retained as an employee,

but her program still runs to this day. She and Sue hosted two

separate sessions of health fairs for Asian Americans, which was

sponsored by the National Japanese American Citizens League

(JACL) and Standard Oil. She started two retirement seminars

for the Salt Lake Chapter of JACL. She held two days of letter

writing for the support of reparations for Japanese Americans

after their internment. Her report advocating for Japanese

reparations was submitted to the U.S. Congress House of

Representatives. Dan Marriott was the only Republican from

Utah to vote for the reparations.

She received the Community Services Council Award, the

Outstanding Achievement Award from YWCA, the Teacher of

the Year Award from the students at University of Utah, among


Tomiye mourned the loss of many friends and relatives. She

was devastated by two. The first was the death of her beloved

and talented brother, Harry, who was her best critic and

consumer of her French and Italian cuisine. Second, was the

death of Dora Johnson Butler who died last December. Their

endearing friendship began at the age of 17 when they were

both students at the Holy Cross School of Nursing.

Tomiye hoped President Joe Biden would have appointed

a Japanese American Supreme Court Justice. The Japanese

(citizens and non-citizens) were badly treated by the U.S.

Government. The Nisei’s served in segregated units. Many died.

They earned Purple Hearts, Bronze, Silver, and Congressional

Medals of Honor. Her brother, Harry, earned a Purple Heart

and a Bronze medal.

In addition to her academic achievements, she was known

for her caramels and Christmas chocolates. She was an

incredible artist and fascinated by all things Japanese. She

did needlepoint and then progressed into Japanese bunka.

She gave hundreds of pieces of bunka away as gifts to her

loved ones including her dentist, Dr. Matheson. She also gave

an eagle to an attorney, Mr. Mitsunaga. She and Carol Jarvis

made antique pins out of old-fashioned buttons and gave

them away as gifts. She volunteered at the Sunday Anderson

Senior Center and knitted hats for the homeless.

Special acknowledgements and gratitude go to Angie Wilcox

and Troy Watanabe. Thanks to Adrienne White, Susan Statton,

Cornelius (Nelly) Tamakloe, Laurie Newland, as well as Nikki

and Aimee from Active Hospice.

The services for Tomiye Ishimatsu will be on: April 30, 2022,

at 1:00 p.m.

Twin Oaks Assisted Living Facility

654 East 3300 South, Salt Lake City, Utah

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Tomiye Ishimatsu, please visit our flower store.


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