Our beloved wife, mother and grandmother, Irja Maj-Lis Malila Ogata, 79, passed away peacefully at The Homestead Assisted Living in Rexburg on July 18, 2013. She was born June 17, 1934, in Helsinki, Finland, to Ragnar Wilhelm and Lempi Sanelma Simon-Aho Malila.
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Irja's early life was shaped by the Second World War in Helsinki, running to bomb shelters and missing school. In spite of the war, she had happy memories playing with cousins in the countryside and swimming, a lifetime favorite activity, in the ocean and lakes of Finland.
After a remarkable experience at a Girl Scout camp, where she met the prophet David O. McKay, she investigated the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She decided to join, against strong opposition from family and friends. Six months after her baptism, she was called to serve a mission to another part of Finland. She remained an active member of the church her entire life, her favorite calling being Relief Society teacher.
Irja had studied English, as well as other languages, so when the American missionaries told her how much fun Brigham Young University was, she decided to go there. Her parents made a significant sacrifice financially to send her there, for which she was always grateful. At BYU, she majored in German and Spanish, and after earning a teaching certificate taught at Logan High in Utah for a year. While at BYU she met the love of her life, Japanese student Mamoru (Mory) Ogata. They dated for several years before marrying in California, where she worked for four years as a teller and later a supervisor at Crocker Bank.
Her married life took her to many places: Oakland and San Jose, Calif.; Tacoma, Wash.; Yokohama and Tokyo, Japan; and Fullerton, Calif. She was fortunate that all of these places are near the coast, because she loved the ocean.
Irja was an accomplished baker and homemaker, always keeping their home immaculate. While living in Japan, she enjoyed many years of flower arranging lessons, and she loved walking in nature. Her two grandchildren were an endless source of joy to her.
Irja was preceded in death by her parents and her only sister, Terttu Malila. She is survived by her husband, Mory Ogata; daughter, Liisa (Mike) Oswald, of Rexburg; and grandchildren, Michael (Karlee) Oswald, of Richmond, Va.; and Christine Oswald, of Fullerton, Calif.
The family would like to thank the staff at The Homestead and the Rexburg Home Health and Hospice for their compassionate and patient care of Irja throughout her illness.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, July 20, at 10 a.m. at the Cresthaven LDS church building (1070 South 2nd East). The family will receive friends Saturday at the Cresthaven building from 9 to 9:45 a.m. prior to services. Condolences may be sent to www.flammfh.com.
Published in Rexburg Standard Journal on July 20, 2013