Ida Lauter

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AMHERST – Ida Lauter (nee Nakanishi) of Amherst, MA died peacefully on May 3 after a recent fractured hip and a long struggle with dementia.  

On April 26, she fell and broke her hip. Without any to-do, she simply stopped eating and drinking. She did not want to linger with dementia and pain, or be confined to bed.

Ida was born in Elk Grove, California. Her early life intersected with parts of American history that still resonate today. Her parents arrived from Japan on one of the last ships before the U.S. closed its doors to Asian immigrants. The family established and owned two grocery stores in Sacramento, California that were lost when Japanese-Americans were abruptly and unjustly incarcerated following Pearl Harbor. Throughout the internment, Ida's family lived in fear that the children might be separated from their parents.

After the war ended, Ida moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to attend St. Luke's and Children's Medical Center School of Nursing, becoming a registered nurse in 1949. Moving to Chicago, Illinois, she worked as an R.N. in medical-surgical settings. In 1951 she met and married Eric W. Lauter, who was a medical student at the University of Chicago.

In 1953, Ida left nursing to raise her children, creating a wonderful, happy home for them and for her husband. By the late 1960s, she was enrolled in Wayne State University in Detroit, MI where she earned her BSN and MSN degrees. Subsequently, she returned to the workforce as a nurse and nursing educator.

Ida and Eric were devoted to each other and enjoyed a long, happy marriage. They loved to golf, garden, and be together. Ida was pre-deceased by her husband and is survived by her daughter (Karen Utgoff), her son (David Lauter), her grandchildren (Naomi Utgoff (Aryeh Englander), Emily VanHassel (Dan), Ariel Ely (Greg), Chloe Lauter, Noah Lauter, and Gillian Lauter), and great-grandchildren (Leda, Miranda, Carl, Eytan, and Eric).

A private memorial service will be held later to celebrate the lives of both Ida and Eric. Memorial donations may be made to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU Foundation), to which Ida was always grateful for its courageous defense of the civil rights of innocent Japanese-Americans when so many others were silent.

Memorial register at

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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on May 15, 2018
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