Marion E. (Smithback) Miyagawa
Miyagawa, Marion E. (Smithback)
MADISON - We bid "Aloha Oe" to our wonderful mother, loving grandma, sister, auntie and great friend. Marion E. Miyagawa (Smithback), passed from this life on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2006. She was the fourth of nine children born to Neil and Anna (Bogenschneider) Smithback on July 12, 1922, in Utica, (Christiana Township. The early depression years, in the quaint village of Cambridge were lean for a family with nine children. Marion came to admire the simplest things in life. Her appreciation of nature and good company sustained her throughout life. Upon graduation from Cambridge High School, in a class of 22, in 1941, at only age 18, Marion left home with a silver dollar to her name. She walked all the way to Madison to stay with sisters in a small downtown Madison apartment. She began working for Rennebohms at their original location near the old University Hospital. She took a second job at Rayovac during the war. She later transferred to the State and Lake Street location, where she served as fountain manager for many years. It was here that she met her future husband, Richard Miyagawa, an NCAA champion from the Hawaiian Islands who had been sponsored by UW Boxing Coach, John Walsh to come and join the UW Boxing team after spending a year in a Japanese relocation camp. A young pharmacist at "Rennies," Robert Hammel, also on the boxing team urged Marion to agree to a date with Miyagawa. These were the beginnings of a lifelong friendship that found the Hammels and Miyagawa's living only a house apart for the last 35 years. The granddaughter of a Norwegian "Viking" woman, Marion was quite a pioneer in her own right. When Miyagawa joined the Army in 1945, Marion and her sister made the train ride to Macon, Ga., to visit Miyagawa, where Dick and Marion married in the Army Chapel before he shipped out for Europe. This marriage would be repeated years later after learning of an "interracial marriage ban" in some southern states, including Georgia. The couple would face opposition on both sides of the family for their decision to marry. Marion held her head high amidst discrimination and stood by her man as they moved to Hawaii and back to Madison again in search of a place they felt welcomed. Unselfishly, she dedicated the rest of her life to her family and friends. She was the "good woman behind her man" and the mother who made sure the tools, transportation and her time were always available, without hesitation for her children. She was the friend who took time to listen and would jump at the chance to help out in a time of need. Her hands were always busy, a creative and talented woman, she was an expert chair caner, she knit, crocheted, quilted and threw a pretty good pot. Marion loved birds and gardening. She'd curse at the squirrels in her feeders, but sneak food to them anyway. She loved all children, a good western, whales, raccoons and dogs. The thing she loved most was a houseful of people. Many hold great memories of good times in Marion's kitchen. We will miss her energy, her unconditional love, her feistiness, but most of all, the way her smile would light up her face when she'd greet you. She had a way of making you feel like you were most special, always putting others before herself. Marion enjoyed 56 years of marriage with Dick, before losing him to Alzheimer's, in 2001. Also preceding her in death, were her parents; a stillborn son; sisters, Genevieve, Dorothy and Lucille; and brothers, Nestor, Gene and Jon. She is survived by sister, Bernice Mickelson of Edgerton; brother, Albert (Ann) of Deforest; and many nieces, nephews and numerous friends. She is further survived by her son, Jon Dee (Tonie), grandchildren, Alisha (Clint Austin) of Two Harbors and Jeremy of Brooklyn; daughter, Judy (Dan McCarthy), grandchildren, Shane (Sara) McCarthy and Brandon McCarthy of Madison; son, Rick (Marsha) and grandchildren, Richard and Bennett of Verona. We invite family and friends to join us in celebrating her life on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006, at the VISITOR CENTER AT HENRY VILAS ZOO. Visitation will be from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m., with a special time for remembering at 3:30 p.m. Memorial gifts in Marion's name can be made to the Henry Vilas Park Zoological Society, 606 S. Randall Ave., Madison, WI 53715.
Mom, we will never forget you, we thank you and we will love you forever. "Aloha Oe, til we meet again."
Wisconsin State Journal, Saturday, October 21, 2006