OBITUARY

Mickie Miyako Watanabe

May 16, 1930June 3, 2019
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Watanabe, Mickie M Mickie Watanabe, 89, passed away on June 3, 2019 in her home in Anaheim, surrounded by family. She was born to Matakichi and Miye Tazoi and grew up on their farm in Garland, Utah with 2 surviving brothers and 4 sisters. She married Takeshi Watanabe in 1950 and they moved to California in 1957. Tak passed away in 2016 after a long illness during which Mickie took loving care of him. She is survived by her children Susan (Steve) Vandewater; Herb (Alyce) Watanabe, Mike (Holly) Watanabe; grandchildren Kimberly Watanabe, Anthony Watanabe, Kenny Vandewater; sisters Maye Chikasawa, Faye (Robert) Toma; also survived by many loving nieces and nephews; best friends Bob and Charlotte Minami, and Joe Bryan. Mickie was a natural athlete and excelled as a bowler and golfer (she once hit a hole-in-one) and was an ace pitcher in a semi-pro softball league in Salt Lake City. She was a friend to many and a gracious hostess for countless family gatherings. She will be missed by all. A memorial service will be held at Westminster Memorial Park at noon on June 17, 2019.

(Published in Los Angeles Times on June 12, 2019)

Services

  • Memorial Service Monday, June 17, 2019

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Mickie Miyako Watanabe

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Biography

Mickie Miyako Watanabe was born on May 16, 1930 in Fielding, Utah to parents Matakichi and Miye Nakao Tazoi. She was the seventh of nine children, where she had 3 brothers and 5 sisters. She is currently survived by sisters Maye Chikasawa and Faye Toma.
When she was young, the family moved to Garland, Utah where all family members worked hard on the 65 acre family farm. There were stories of the back-breaking work of thinning sugar beets into the night, and missing school when crops were ready for harvest.
Mickie graduated from Bear River High School in 1948. In her yearbook she was called an “ace commercial artist” and received special recognition for the “exceptionally splendid advertising posters” she created throughout the community. She was also an excellent athlete and was the winner of a regional badminton tournament.
Mickie played fastpitch softball for a local Tremonton team and was soon scouted and recruited to pitch for the Salt Lake City Shamrocks in 1948, one of the best women’s semi-pro softball teams in the country. According to the Utah Historical Society, “The Girls of Summer” traveled the Western states from Canada to Mexico, racking up as many as 10,000 miles in a season. They did it on a shoestring, driving their own automobiles and sometimes sewing their own uniforms to save money. Mickie remembers playing in Portland; Denver; Idaho; Vancouver, WA; Arizona; Buena Park, Orange and Burbank, CA. Each player received $3 per day for food, and sometimes came home with more money than they left with. In an article in the Salt Lake City Deseret News in 1996, Mickie (pitcher) and sister Faye (catcher) were named as outstanding former Shamrock players who appeared regularly in many complimentary local news stories. Seventy years later, Mickie’s Utah friends still mention what an outstanding ballplayer she was.
On December 9, 1950, Mickie married Takeshi Watanabe of Honeyville, Utah. In August, 1951, their daughter Susan was born. They lived in a 2-room house that Tak built on the Watanabe family farm. Their son Herb was born in July, 1954. In 1957 they pulled up stakes and moved to Southern California for better opportunities. Tak worked at A & A Nursery in Norwalk, then eventually started his own gardening business. They bought their house in Anaheim in 1957. In July, 1959, their third child Mike was born.
Mickie was a homemaker until her children were grown. In the 1970s and 80’s she worked as a bookkeeper for the Orange County Gardeners’ Credit Union where she got to know many of the Japanese-American families in the community. In 1983 she decided to put her artistic talents to work and was hired by Mr. Lowe’s Cakes in Fountain Valley as a cake decorator. After 5 years she decided to join Costco’s bakery, again as a cake decorator where she was known for her speed and talent. And some of you may remember the personalized molded cakes she made: a replica of Angel Stadium; a catcher’s mitt and baseball; and an “Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” cake for a new mother.
Mickie called her children “duds” when she thought she would never be a grandmother, but Mike and Holly blessed her with her first grandchild, Kimberly, in August, 1991. Herb and Alyce gave her a grandson, Anthony in March, 1994. And then to her great shock, her 43-year old daughter, Susan and husband Steve gave her a third grandchild, Kenny, born in August, 1994.
As mentioned before, Mickie was a natural athlete. Her older brother Jim once told her, “Too bad you’re a girl.” She and Tak bowled for many years in a mixed-doubles Nisei league where she was known as an excellent bowler. There they met Bob and Charlotte Minami and formed a lasting friendship of over 50 years. Mickie and Tak learned to ski in their 50s. They did everything with gusto and took trips to Mammoth, Tahoe, Utah and Colorado. After Tak retired from gardening, they took up golf. Again, Mickie excelled and once hit a 111 yard hole-in-one. They golfed several times a week and traveled to Hawaii, Utah, Las Vegas and all over California.
In September, 2016, Tak passed away after a long illness. Mickie took loving care of him during that time with never a complaint. After Tak’s passing, Mickie lived independently in her home of 62 years. Mickie was diagnosed with a terminal illness in February, 2019. She passed away quietly at home, surrounded by family on June 3, 2019, two weeks after her 89th birthday.