1925 - 2020
It is with great sadness, we announce that our Mom, Sueco Mary Saruwatari, affectionately known as Baba passed away peacefully in Taber on Thursday, December 31, 2020 at 95 years.
As a result of the restrictions regarding Covid-19 and the government recommendations, a private funeral service was held at Southland Funeral Chapel, Taber on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 11:00 A.M. Burial followed at the Taber Memorial Garden.
Mary is survived by her daughter Kathy (Richard) Kaga of Vancouver, British Columbia and son David (Bríd) Saruwatari of Carlow, Ireland; grandsons Conor, Declan and Ronan; special nephew Kerry Ishida; sisters-in-law Sady Tagami, Joyce Saruwatari and Jeannie Takahashi as well as numerous Okamoto and Saruwatari nieces and nephews and many friends that were like family.
She was predeceased by her loving husband Tak Saruwatari; parents Shinkichi “George” and Misu Okamoto; siblings Muss (Marion), Sam (Tatsue), Haddie, Tamo, Mitzi (Kichi) Ishida, Stum, Irene and numerous in-laws.
Mary was born in Saanich, British Columbia on November 16, 1925. She recently celebrated her 95th birthday, excitedly connecting with many friends and family members via Zoom. Family Zoom calls featuring a variety of special guests had become a weekly highlight.
Mom was a prolific and eloquent communicator. She regularly connected to generations of friends and relatives from near and afar via phone, email and snail mail. Her messages were written from the heart and she was genuinely interested in everyone. Mom read the paper from cover to cover and did the crossword puzzle daily. She was a lifelong learner and a patient teacher – her knowledge was vast. She was a living history book. Part of her evening routine was watching Jeopardy. She was not amused when it was pre-empted by sports or politics! Mary adored Alex Trebek and was reading his book at the time of her passing. Carefree childhood days were spent in Victoria but she considered Taber her home. She referred to it as the friendliest town in the west. Wonderful neighbours contributed to Mom being able to maintain her cherished independence. Living in her own home meant everything to her. Memorable trips to Bermuda, Ireland, Scottsdale and the west coast were perfect for someone with an adventurous spirit. Mom was a devoted member of the congregation at Knox United Church and occasionally the convenor of the UCW Christmas Tea and Bazaar. She wrote compassionate messages to help grieving families and regularly attended Bible Study. Prepping for the sessions challenged her to think and expand her knowledge but the part she treasured most was the fellowship shared with this very special group. An avid curler, Mom played in league games at the Taber Club and always looked forward to the annual JCCA bonspiel. After Mom stopped curling, she channeled her energy into cheering for Team Gushue. Mom developed many lasting friendships while working at Calgary Power and looked forward to socializing at the TARA (TransAlta Retiree Association) functions. She happily shared her yummy hemp heart cookies, peanut brittle and rice bags. Mom had a flair for fashion and much to her delight was frequently complimented on her No-Mi-No-U tights and her Scottish plaid. She inherited a love of flowers from her father and was especially proud of her 2020 “Friendship Garden”.
Mary Okamoto married the love of her life Tak Saruwatari on New Year’s Eve. We are visualizing their joyful reunion, surrounded by family and friends. What a perfect celebration ~ no masks, no social distancing, no hand sanitizer just lots of love, laughter and hugs!
Perhaps the greatest gift Mom taught us was to be kind – to try to make someone else feel special each day. She was an inspiration to us all. Our eyes are full of tears but our hearts are full of happy memories.
If friends so desire, memorial tributes in Mary’s name may be made directly to the Knox United Church Memorial Fund, 4929 - 50 Avenue, Taber, Alberta T1G 1H7 or to the Resident and Family Council Fund, c/o 4700 - 64 Avenue, Taber, Alberta T1G 0C6 (attention: Kerry Ishida).