Kimiko Danae Oki • Courtesy

Kimiko Danae Oki passed away Wednesday, March 6, 2024. She was 101.  

Kimiko “Kimi” Danae Oki was born on Sept. 10, 1922 to Jukichi and Kiyo Hamasaki at a house near 8th Ave and Yesler Way in Seattle. Danae Oki was their third child and first and only daughter. She attended Bailey Gatzert Elementary School and graduated from Broadway High School. In high school, she loved attending dances, biking around Green Lake, and ice skating.  

She was also active in the Seattle Buddhist community.  

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan, she — a U.S. citizen — was one of 125,000 people of Japanese ancestry forcibly relocated from their homes. In 1942, she and her family were incarcerated at the Minidoka War Relocation Center. In the single suitcase she was allowed to bring, she packed her ice skates, along with clothes and other necessities. To escape the persistent dust at Minidoka, she lived for one year in Twin Falls, Idaho, working as a housekeeper. Afterward, she returned to live and work in “camp” as a typist, earning $12 per month. 

She married her high school sweetheart Kiyoto Bob Oki in a Minidoka mess hall on July 14, 1945. Their friends and family pooled their sugar rations to bake them a wedding cake and the newlyweds traveled via bus to celebrate their honeymoon in Salt Lake City.  

After the war, she and her husband returned to Seattle and worked tirelessly, she as a secretary and he for the U.S. Postal Service, to provide for their extended family of six, eventually saving enough money to move from a tiny 2-bedroom apartment to their own home. 

Their marriage was blessed with three children: Scott Oki (Laurie), Robert Oki (Pearl), and Marsha Shiyama (Mike); five grandchildren: David Shiyama (Joanna), Erin Shiyama Hoffman (Bob), Alexander Oki, Nicholas Oki, and Elisabeth Callan Oki; and one great-grandson: Wesley Hoffman. All survive her.  

She was preceded in death by her parents, parents-in-law Kitaro and Shizuno Oki, older brothers Katsumi and Shigemi, and younger brother Tomio, as well as her husband, who she loved for more than 69 years of marriage before his peaceful death in 2014.  

For over a century, Danae Oki was a force of love, warmth, kindness, and calm to family, friends, and strangers alike.  

She was the older sister who’d the spring troublemaking Tomio from laundry room timeouts. She would be welcomed by a chorus of “Hi, Grandma,” whether she was entering her favorite cafe, restaurant, or Nordstrom department (even though her diminutive 4’7″ stature sometimes made her difficult to spot).  

In perhaps the only documented incident of its kind, she may have uttered a crossword to Putsy, the neighborhood dog who ate one of her famous blackberry pies that she’d left out, cooling on the back porch milk box. 

Danae Oki was an active community volunteer and donor. She played an instrumental role in the formation of the Imperials Drum and Bugle Corps, leaving an indelible mark on countless lives through her passion and dedication. Later, she and her husband supported local charities like the Boy Scouts of America, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Densho. 

Danae Oki was a model of humility, selflessness, and graceful aging. She never complained, even as she persevered through the decades with a cruel arthritis in her hands. Though this eventually prevented her from indulging in her cooking passion, it never robbed her of her hearty appetite for sushi, spam musubi, or her favorite McDonald’s vanilla soft serve and coffee.  

She lived in her home on the shores of Lake Washington until her death.  

In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations to Seattle Children’s Hospital in Kimi’s honor. She leaves behind a legacy of patiently scrawled birthday cards, needlessly brief voicemails, and love, pure love. 

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