Born near Salem, Ore., Tsuchi "Tish" Koto grew up during a confusing time in U.S. history.
The Fruitland resident died May 9 from complications related to cancer.
At the end of 1941, when Tish was 20 years old, the nation changed forever.
Japan declared war on America by bombing Hawaii in December 1941. Young men flocked to recruiting stations to sign up for the military.
By the beginning of 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the evacuation of more than 120,000 Americans of Japanese heritage.
Tish and her family were among those affected by the growing anti-Japanese sentiment and growing fear, especially on the West Coast, that anyone of Japanese descent could be a spy. More than two-thirds of those put in the camps - officially called relocation centers - were U.S. citizens and about 10 percent were in the military.
Around the same time Earnest Koto, a young man living in Ontario, enlisted in the military.
While waiting for deployment orders to France, he signed on with Morrison-Knudson to build barracks and facilities to house those who were moved to 33,000 acres of arid south Idaho desert.
Tish and her family arrived at the relocation camp of Minidoka on Sept. 7, 1942.
"What a town!" Tish says in the journal she kept during her train ride from the lush Oregon Coast. "Only one depot just recently made."
Mike Koto, Tish's son, said he's not sure how his mother and father met. But he said internees were often allowed to attend social events involving those from outside the camp.
"She looked at it as an adventure," Mike said.
Her travel log supports that as she writes about the "Special Train Ride" and places the train stopped or passed along the way.
"Multnomah Falls, 4:50 p.m.; Horsetail Falls, 4:53 1/2 p.m.; Bonneville 5 p.m.; They sure fixed the roads nicely (Eagle Creek Forest)," she wrote.
Earnest and Tish were married after the war in 1947 and made their home in Shoshone where Ernie and his brother, Tom Koto, owned the Boston Cafe.
After Tish's seven-year battle with tuberculosis beginning in 1949, Tish and Earnest moved their small family to Twin Falls, where the brothers opened Koto's Cafe. Tish worked in the kitchen at the cafe until she retired in 1977.
In her later years, Tish moved in with her oldest son.
"That is part of the family tradition," Mike said. "To care for older family members."
Keeping family close was part of who she was, Mike said.
"When we were sorting her things after she died we found hundreds of cards she was planning to send out to friends," he said. "They were just notes to say, 'Hello. I'm thinking about you.'
"That's how she was."
Childhood memories of the Oregon Coast prompted trips as often as she could get away. Her last visit was just months before she died.
Family and friends said Tish never mined talking about her stay at Minidoka, but her life was known for much more than what many consider a dark part of American history.
She was well known for service through her church, especially coordinating and cooking meals for various functions.
Tish also enjoyed her garden, providing flowers to friends and church members.
The things she treasured in life most were her faith, family and friends.
David Kennard: 377-6436
In Remembrance is a weekly profile on a Treasure Valley resident who has recently passed away. To recommend a friend or loved one for an In Remembrance, e-mail email@example.com.