Waka (Mochizuki) Dannenhauer. • Courtesy Photo
Waka (Mochizuki) Dannenhauer. • Courtesy Photo

Waka Dannenhauer, 97, of Shutesbury, MA, formerly of Seattle, died peacefully on March 19, 2015 at the Morrison nursing home in Whitefield, NH. Born in Seattle WA to immigrants Hideichi and Yoshie Mochizuki, Mrs. Dannenhauer attended Harrison and Longfellow schools and graduated from Garfield High School at the age of 16.

Following an additional college preparatory year at Garfield, she worked in secretarial capacities for the Japanese-American Courier, N.Y.K Steamship Company, and First Baptist Church where she was also a member. During this time, Mrs. Dannenhauer also served as president of both the Seattle Baptist Association and the Seattle Aeolian Society. In 1942, she and her family were removed to become Family 11144 at the War Relocation Authority’s Minidoka Project in Hunt, ID. She served as Club Activities Supervisor there until she was granted indefinite leave to work for John W. Thomas at the American Baptist Home Mission Office in New York, NY. She continued in that position as well as studying at New York University until her marriage to the late Rev. Kenneth S. Dannenhauer. She left with him to serve congregations in Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York. After the Rev. Mr. Dannenhauer’s retirement, Waka continued to be active in church affairs, including terms as Moderator of the Madison Avenue Baptist Church and chair of the Manhattan Church Women United.

On her own, starting in 1962, Mrs. Dannenhauer began a long career as an administrative assistant. She began by running the biochemistry lab of Professor Noboru Sueoka at Princeton University. Ten years later she moved across campus to become administrative and confidential secretary to successive Directors of the Princeton Art Museum, Peter C. Bunnell and Allen Rosenbaum. In 1978, Waka returned to NYU as Executive Secretary to Laurence Berlowitz, then Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs. Waka ended her career as Senior Executive Assistant to Presidents C. Lloyd Bailey, James Sheffield, and Larry Bruce at what is now the United States Fund for UNICEF.

In addition to her professional work, Mrs. Dannenhauer maintained a commitment to community service. Over the years her volunteer activities included serving as a church choir member and Sunday school teacher, board member for the National Council of American Baptist Women, coordinator of volunteer activities at the Skillman (NJ) Training School for Boys, tour guide at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and president of the board of directors for the West Village Chorale (NYC). An inveterate travel lover, Mrs. Dannenhauer visited nearly all of the 50 states and more than 20 countries on six continents.

In her later years, Mrs. Dannenhauer lost her administrative prowess to the effects of dementia. While under care in assisted living facilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, though increasingly frail, she remained an astonishingly powerful alto who often burst into song, whether from her “girl group” hits from the 1940s, 1960s musicals, excerpts from the classical choral repertory, or church hymns and Christmas carols.

Mrs. Dannenhauer is survived by her brother Eugene Mochizuki, of Seattle, her son Mark Dannenhauer, daughter in law, Jane Urban, and grandson Rafer Dannenhauer, all of Shutesbury, MA.

A celebratory memorial service happened on May 17, 2015 at the Madison Avenue Baptist Church, New York City, NY.

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