Masako EndowJuly 10, 1927 ~ July 7, 2017 (age 89)
Masako Tsukamoto Endow of Boise, and formerly of the Malta area, passed peacefully into the loving arms of her Savior in the morning hours of July 7, 2017. She was just three days shy of her 90th birthday.
Masako was born in Pocatello, Idaho, on July 10, 1927, the sixth and last child of Kuniichi and Shizuyo Tsukamoto. She had three older brothers: Kunio (b. 1914); Sanji (b. 1920); and Masa (b. 1923); and two older sisters: Toshimi (b. 1921) and Ayako (b. 1925).
At the time of Masako’s birth, the Tsukamotos lived in and ran a boardinghouse on Second Street in Pocatello, and her dad worked for Union Pacific Railroad. Jobs were scarce and the flow of boarders was unsteady, so by 1929, the Tsukamotos moved from the Pocatello boardinghouse to Tyhee, Idaho, to work as sharecroppers on the sugar beet farms.
It was backbreaking work, and with the onset of the Great Depression, it was no more lucrative than constructing railroads had been. But Kuniichi and his family were resilient and hardworking. From the time Masako was a small child, she was contributing to the family’s farm and household obligations. One of her first jobs required that she water, feed, and take care of the pigs the family was raising for food. In order to get water, she needed to hand pump it a half-mile from the main canal. In later years, she joined her sisters in hand-weeding the rows of potatoes.
Masako started school at Tyhee Elementary in 1932 and continued through Irving Junior High and Pocatello High School. In her freshman year, she became more acquainted with Seiji Endow, who would soon begin courting her, despite the fact she was too young to date. The pair spent as much time together as they could. They attended Japanese American Citizen League dances, went on group trips to Lava Hot Springs, and joined friends on outings to Fred & Kelly’s Drive-In.
The courtship was cut short when Seiji was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944. He served during the post-war occupation of Germany, and when he returned, he found Masako waiting for him. They were married on December 12, 1946 in Pocatello. Seiji was 21 years old; Masako just 19. They leased their first farm south of Blackfoot the next year and began their lifelong commitment to growing potatoes, sugar beets, alfalfa; raising various livestock; and caring for and nurturing two generations of family.
Their first child, Susan, arrived in 1947, followed by Michael in 1948, Rodney in 1950, Jone in 1953, and Carolyn in 1954. While Seiji toiled dawn to dusk in the fields, Masako would take care of the kids and manage the household. She insisted on the entire family sitting down to eat together, so when Seiji was too busy to make it in for a meal, Masako would pack up the food and the children and haul them all out to the fields, sometimes as late as 9 p.m.
With the Blackfoot farm yielding less and less, Seiji purchased 640 acres in Malta in 1961 and moved the family to southcentral Idaho. The land was full of lava rock and covered in sagebrush. Every member of the family had to contribute to the day-to-day work. Masako helped run machinery in the fields, Susan took care of many domestic responsibilities, and the boys helped Seiji in the fields. The younger girls even dug lava rocks and weeds from the soil as the family worked to tame the raw land. Over the course of their 41 years on the Malta farm, Seiji and Masako built it into a productive diversified operation.
Even as the potential for such success grew year by year, the family was not untouched by adversity and heartache. In August 1963, Seiji suffered serious injuries, including a broken pelvis, when trusses in the new potato cellar caved, pinning him against the end truss. As Seiji lay in a body cast and Masako tended to him and the kids, extended family and members of the JACL assisted the family by completing construction on the potato cellar and bringing in the harvest that fall. Two years later, tragedy struck the family again. Michael, while on a fishing trip with a friend, swam out to retrieve a driftaway boat and drowned. He was only 15.
The heartbroken family persevered. In 1968, after more than 20 years of dedication and hard work, Seiji built Masako her dream home and the one in which they would spend the next 34 years. The kids were growing up, heading to college, getting married, and beginning families of their own. The couple continued working the land, and Masako engaged some of her time in outside activities. As a member of the home extension club called “The Cheerful Doers,”
Masako won many awards for her cooking and sewing skills. She and Seiji were active members of the Malta Lions Club and were lifelong members of the Pocatello-Blackfoot Japanese American Citizens’ League.
The first of Seiji and Masako’s nine grandchildren arrived in 1976. As grandparents, they lavished time and attention on the new generation—passing on the same lessons of work ethic and commitment to family that they’d imparted to their children. They also had a lot of fun with them: raising chickens and rabbits, going on fishing trips and road trips, attending the kids’ activities and graduations.
After more than 50 years, Seiji retired from farming in 1998. The couple finally had the opportunity and the means to enjoy their life together as they chose. They trekked across the country in their Bigfoot camper, from Florida to Alaska, and traveled overseas to Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and East Asia. They also spent many quiet days fishing Magic Reservoir and countless streams and rivers in southern Idaho.
In 2002, Seiji succumbed to liver disease he’d battled for several years, so Masako sold the Malta farm and moved to Boise. As more and more of her family moved to western Idaho, she was able to spend more time with her children, grandchildren and new great-grandchildren. Just as the Malta farm had been, her home became a place where visiting family and local family would congregate to eat wonderful food and reconnect with each other. That legacy will live on for all who knew and loved Masako Endow.
She is survived by her sister Ayako Konma (Satoru), her daughters Susan Carter (Luke), Jone Sun (Fred), and Carolyn Larsen (Herb), and her son Rodney Endow (Janet), as well as nine grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Services will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 15, 2017 at Eagle Methodist Church, where she’d been a faithful member for the past 15 years.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 15, 2017 at Eagle Methodist Church, where she’d been a faithful member for the past 15 years.