Marion Tanamachi Itoh, 95, longtime resident of Livingston, Montana, passed away peacefully of natural causes on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Graveside committal and burial will precede the service, at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 23rd; we will meet at Mountain View Cemetery. The Memorial Funeral Service will be held 11 a.m., on Thursday, June 23rd, hosted at the Holbrook United Methodist Church with the Reverend Fred Amborn III of Grace Methodist Church as Celebrant. Fellowship luncheon will follow the service at the church.
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Marion was born on May 1, 1920, in Seal Beach, California, to Tarazo Tanamachi and Katsue Aoki. Marion was the oldest of three children. She grew up on a farm where all kinds of produce was grown. Despite the rural setting her father was dedicated to expose the children to various sports and other outside activities like the Japanese art of Kendo. One of Marion's honors was becoming the local Kendo champion in 1937. Monday thru Friday Marion attended public school. Then on Saturdays she attended the Long Beach Japanese School. There she learned Japanese dance and to read & write Japanese. It was actually Kindergarten before Marion learned to speak English, although her father had taught her some English words early on.
After graduating from Huntington Beach High School she enrolled in a sewing school where she learned many valuable skills she used later in life. When World War II began, Marion and her family spent time at Poston II, a Japanese internment camp in Arizona. While at Poston she volunteered as a nurse's aid, which ignited the flame to pursue nursing as a career. As means to get out of the camp, she enrolled in the Episcopal Hospital School of Nursing program in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was later followed there by her sister Aiko. After graduating as a registered nurse, she continued to work in hospitals in Philadelphia where she eventually met her future husband, Yokichi Itoh who was a surgical resident. They were married in Philadelphia and started their family together.
After Yokichi graduated from Temple University and finished his residency program, they moved to Livingston where Yok practiced medicine for over 30 years. During that time Marion was a wonderful mother to their three children and assisted Yok in his office. Marion was a long time member and supporter of the Grace United Methodist Church in Livingston. She loved to play in the Bell Choir and was honored as the oldest Bell Choir member at one state competition. She served a long time in the Church's Builders Aid program and many lives were touched through her love, lips (words of encouragement), and labors. Marion was a 50 yr. member of the Livingston P.E.O. Chapter P. Many will remember her for hosting meetings, doing presentations, and most of all making handmade tote bags for convention delegates. Marion was a Den Mother for Cub Scouts, as well as a long time Girl Scout leader. She also volunteered for many years as a Girl Scout Day camp and Camp on the Boulder church camp nurse. Marion's hands were always busy doing crafts in sewing, quilting and knitting clubs in Billings and Bozeman, as well as doing many fun projects at home. She also volunteered at the local library to help bind books and teach classes on knitting. She loved to give talks on traditional Japanese dolls and how to do origami, and was well known for her fish and swan mobiles. She frequently helped out at the American Red Cross blood bank, and enjoyed delivering senior citizens food through the Meals on Wheels program. Later in life she went on many road trips with Yok in their motorhome to visit and spend time with grandkids. They loved to dig clams on Northwest beaches and bring home peaches and pears from Eastern Washington to can and share with friends.
She was a tireless individual who loved and served the community she lived in. She will always be remembered as a loving mother, awesome grandma, and a dedicated servant of Christ to those around her. Her presence on earth will be sorely missed, but she will never be forgotten for her caring and loving spirit, especially by those she touched, taught and blessed in so many ways.
She was preceded in death by her mother, father, brother Tom Tanamachi , and sister Aiko Endo; and husband Dr. Yokichi Itoh. She is survived by her three children; Richard (Butch) Itoh and wife Linda of Bozeman, Montana, with children Brian and Jessica; Steve Itoh and wife Debbie of Roberts, Wisconsin, with children Andrea (husband Juston) and Kyle; and Kathy Itoh Millson and husband Jim of Deming, Washington, with children Christopher, Michael (wife Kristie), and Matthew Millson.
Donations can be made to the Livingston Municipal Library teen program or the Grace Methodist Church Builder's Aid program.
Her family wishes to express special thanks to those on staff at the Diamond K Lodge, Spring Meadows, and Hospice of Bozeman for all their help in her care.
Arrangements are under the care of Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory. Online condolences may be shared at franzen-davis.com
Franzen-Davis Funeral Home & Crematory
118 North Third Street
Livingston, MT 59047
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on June 19, 2016