We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Salmon and Sons Funeral Home
Lilly Mutsuko Oishi, nee Mori, passed away on Friday, July 29, 2022 at Chinook Regional Hospital at the age of 93 years from complications related to congestive heart failure.
Lilly was the loving wife of Yoshiyuki Oishi for 51 years, who predeceased her in 2008. Lilly was the devoted mother of Joyce Oishi of San Francisco; Arlene Oishi of Lethbridge; Maurice Oishi of Calgary; Sheila Oishi of Lethbridge and the caring grandmother of her six grandchildren - Kazuo, Tomi, Yoshio, Seiji, Kiyomi and Taiga—all of whom she adored. She regularly expressed her good fortune at having her children marry such wonderful people: Dii Lewis, Jeff Coffman and Johanne Doucet.
She was a woman of joy and optimism who believed that every day was a good day. She was constant in expressing her gratitude to others, and always encouraged friends and family to try new things with her catchphrase, “What the heck, just give it a try.”
Born June 2, 1929 in Newton, BC, Lilly was the sixth of ten children of Shinkichi and Suna Mori. Lilly’s family cleared the land and operated a successful strawberry farm. She had fond childhood memories of enjoying the Pacific National Exhibition and the Strawberry Growers’ Picnic. In 1942, as a result of World War II, the family farm was confiscated. At the age of 13, she and her family were evacuated to Southern Alberta and worked the sugar beet fields. Despite these adversities, Lilly went on to obtain a certificate in dressmaking in Winnipeg and trained and worked as a lab technician in Chicago. She returned to Southern Alberta in 1957.
Lilly was an active member of the community and always enjoyed sharing her knowledge, meeting new people, and catching up with old friends. As far back as the kids can remember, Lilly included yoga in her daily exercise routine and was excited about her daily walks. While Yosh was an instructor at the Lethbridge Community College (LCC), Lilly taught sushi making and Japanese cooking at the LCC and was an active member of the Faculty Wives Association. She volunteered and canvassed for a variety of organizations, was a director of the Alberta Cultural Heritage Foundation, and was a founding member of the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association recognized for outstanding service with a Life Long Membership Award in 2019.
Lilly had a passion for Japanese culture. She studied the Shinpa Seizan school of ikebana (flower arranging) for over 50 years and shared her joy of this tradition by teaching many others over the years. In 1977 as Japanese Canadians celebrated the centennial of their arrival to Canada, Lilly was involved in organizing the Centennial Dancers of Southern Alberta. After the Centennial Dancers disbanded at the end of 1977, Lilly helped to organize the Momiji Dancers and was their first president.
In 1987, Lilly formed the Japanese Heritage (Bunka) Society in order to promote and share Japanese culture with others and to create a better understanding and acceptance of different cultures.
Lilly was an active member of the Lethbridge Buddhist Church as well the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta. In 1986, she organized Buddhist services at the Southland Nursing Home and prepared bento lunch for the seniors to enjoy after the service with Sensei. She served as president of the Lethbridge Buddhist Church Women’s Association and with the Buddhist Churches of Canada Women’s Federation. Lilly always enjoyed helping in the kitchen at church and could often be found sharing her cooking knowledge with those around her.
Lilly was well known for her culinary skills and hospitality. From Japanese dignitaries and basketball teams to rockstars and family reunions, Lilly cooked for them all. For her, cooking was an expression of love and a way to bring people together.
Lilly is survived by her sister, Amy Sakurai of Aurora, Colorado; brother, Albert Mori of Burnaby, BC; and sister-in-law, Sheila Mori of BC. Lilly is predeceased by brothers Toshiaki, Kuts, Bob, and Mick, and sisters Shinako, Terry and Susie.
The family thanks Dr. Leam, the staff of the St. Michael’s Health Centre, and the Chinook Regional Hospital for their care and concern. Char Friesen of AHS was a special comfort in sharing her expertise to help the family navigate care options for Lilly. Kind guidance was offered by the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta and by Salmon and Sons Funeral Home.
On Sunday, August 7, 2022, Meet the Family will begin at 1:00pm followed by a funeral service at 2:00pm at the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta at 470 40 Street South, Lethbridge with Rev. Izumi officiating. Interment will be held at a later date.
In lieu of koden or flowers, the family asks that donations be given to the St. Michael’s Health Centre in appreciation for the Community Transition Bed Program ℅ Covenant Foundation, Room 3C60, 11111 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, AB, T5K 0L4 www.covenantfoundation.ca or the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta, 470 40 Street South, Lethbridge, AB T1J 3Z5 or a charity of choice.