Cover photo for Tatsuko Ogata's Obituary
Tatsuko Ogata Profile Photo
1928 Tatsuko 2021

Tatsuko Ogata

January 11, 1928 — June 1, 2021

Over Mother's Day weekend, Tatsuko Ogata was surrounded by three generations of family members, each of whom she had uniquely shaped. With her eyes gleaming in the morning sun, she radiated matriarchal elegance, as always. Three weeks later, that light flickered out, but its afterglow endures in the lives of those lucky enough to be touched by her grace: a luminosity of love undimmed in death; a legacy of influence unbroken in life. Tatsuko "Tats" Ogata, née Matsushita, was born into a farming family on January 11, 1928 in Compton, California, one of six children raised by their Japanese immigrant parents, Shigeshi and Kumi Matsushita. Along with thousands of other Japanese Americans during World War II, her family was interned at the Gila River Relocation Center in Arizona when she was 14. After three years of imprisonment, Tats moved to Minnesota, where she found a job at a floral shop out of high school. She later met and married Mikiri "Mickey" Ogata. They had three kids, whom they raised in Minnesota and California. Tats dedicated herself to caring for the kids at home, but once they left she secured a job in the county's human services department in Spicer, MN. She rose through the ranks until she became director, with no college education but ample intelligence and tenacity, as well as an infectious laugh that could warm the coldest of hearts. In the early 1990s, Tats and Mickey moved to Livingston, Montana, where she revived a familiar motherly role by doting on her grandkids. Years later, as she entered her 90s, that deep well of love was still full enough for her to play and laugh with her great-grandkids, who thought her cane was a magic wand, because she was magic. For as much as she helped others, she was reluctant to accept help for herself, even as she grew weak with age. But everyone wanted to lend a hand, to repay the devotion she had so widely distributed for decades, in seemingly endless supply. Tats passed away peacefully in her home on June 1 in Livingston, Montana. She was 93. She was preceded in death by Mickey in 2006 and is survived by son Harley Ogata (Christina); daughter Robin Ogata; daughter Jody Ogata (Bob); granddaughter Carly Ogata (Max); grandson Myers Reece (Kate); granddaughter Lani Asman (Zach); granddaughter Kaylee Asman (Zadkiel); great-grandchildren Samuel Ogata and Fisher and Gus Reece; and many other relatives too numerous to list but all of whom she loved.In death, she remains the tie that binds together a sprawling diaspora of loved ones, a connective tissue that makes all of their lives fuller, forever. Koden and memorials can be sent to the Minnesota Nikkei Project, her preferred memorial, c/o Rosie Iversen, 2835 Casco Point Rd., Wayzata, MN 55391. Tats will join her husband at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in a private burial.
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