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
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
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
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