Jessie Hatsue (hah tsu eh) was born to George Shinsuke and Takako Akiyama in Parkdale, OR. She died peacefully at Providence Hospital after a brief illness.
She was joined by two brothers, Charles Kazuo & Homer Yoshio. Jessie & her brothers attended school & Japanese school and worked on the family farm; she also provided child care at the Parkdale church on Sundays. In 1942, Japanese Americans on the west coast were required to report to internment camps. The Akiyama family was incarcerated in Pinedale Assembly Center, CA; Tule Lake, CA; and Minidoka, ID. She graduated from Hunt High School in Minidoka early and was one of two students who taught classes to their peers. Although not interested in fashion design, she took advantage of an opportunity to leave Minidoka to attend the prestigious McDonald School of Design and nanny for a family in New York City.
Upon return to Parkdale, she continued working on the farm and accompanied her father to deliver fresh produce to Portland where she met Tommy Tsutomu Okazaki at his family’s grocery store. They married and had two children, Raymond & Betty Jean. Jessie worked full-time at the Okazaki family store, Lombard Food Center, while also serving as Kenton School room mother, and assistant Cub Scout & Girl Scout leader. After Tommy’s premature death, she married Thomas D. Harry, a food broker and one of Tommy’s good friends, who adopted her children. Raymond & Betty were fortunate to have the love and support of a mom, a daddy, and a dad who instilled in them the importance of work ethic, integrity, contributing to the community, love of the outdoors and the value of education.
Jessie worked at Meier & Frank at Lloyd Center and at one time bowled in three leagues. Avid sports fans, Tom & Jessie held season tickets to the Portland Buckaroos hockey team & the Portland Trail Blazers. Well-traveled to four continents, her favorite locales were the family cabin in SW Washington, the central Oregon coast, and Palm Desert, CA. She enjoyed razor clamming, mushrooming, huckleberry picking, fishing, cooking, sewing, knitting, growing orchids & African violets, walking, eating at restaurants, and playing penny slot machines. She was an amazing cook, known for her fried chicken teriyaki, sekihan (seh key hahn - sticky rice with red beans), seafood stew, banana & zucchini breads, and apple pies. A participant in several activities, she enjoyed the company of the bowling ladies, knitting ladies, water aerobics classmates, and fellow volunteers at the Ikoi no Kai lunch program for seniors.
Jessie adored animals! She was the neighborhood dog whisperer who had at least two different kinds of dog treats at all times. Large and small, dogs could be seen lining the walkway to the front door, taking turns to receive their treats. The Harry family had a total of nine cats; two miss her very much.
The true loves of her life were her grandchildren, Alex & Lauren. She would do just about anything for them (including standing in line in the middle of the night for the hottest Christmas toy of the year, but not including the purchase of video games). She had fond memories of trips with them to San Diego, CA; Palm Desert, CA; Washington, DC and Hawaii. She was immensely proud of the adults they have become.
Jessie became incensed with injustice and the abuse & neglect of children & animals. However, she did not allow negative situations to consume her because she firmly believed in the Japanese form of karma. She knew that people who did wrong would get what was coming to them.
Preceded in death by parents Takako & George Akiyama, husband Tommy Okazaki, brother Homer Akiyama, husband Tom Harry, brother Charlie Akiyama. Survivors include son Raymond (wife Janis), daughter Betty Jean, grandson Alexander, granddaughter Lauren (husband Jeff), and numerous nieces, nephews, & their families.
Due to the Covid pandemic, a small private Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests remembrances to Ikoi no Kai lunch program, 1333 SE 28th Avenue, Portland, 97214; Sunshine Division, 687 N Thompson Street, Portland, 97227; Dove Lewis Charlie Fund for Abused Animals or Dove Lewis Stray & Wildlife Fund, 1945 NW Pettygrove Street, Portland, 97209; Nature Conservancy Fund of Oregon, 821 SE 14th Avenue, Portland, 97214; or Nature Conservancy Fund of Washington State, 74 Wall Street, Seattle, WA 98121.
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