By Zachariah Bryan
Northwest Asian Weekly
Behind every good man, there is a good woman. And perhaps there is no truer case of that than Louise Kashino.
While her husband Shiro Kashino was used to the spotlight, having been a high school football star and a war hero, she was used to making things work behind the scenes. At the Nisei Veterans Hall, she has been the constant cog that helped make the whole thing run.
“Every activity she was there. She’s very organized. She’s been the support behind him,” said Debbie Kashino, Louise Kashino’s daughter.
But, finally, Louise Kashino is getting recognized for her actions. On Dec. 5, she will be recognized at the Northwest Asian Weekly’s event, “Top Contributors to the Asian Community.” Tish Oye, Principal of Glassworks, Inc, nominated her for the award.
“She’s real active, she’s always volunteering, she’s always making food for the events they have. She’s always there,” Oye said.
Oye noted how Louise Kashino was always so giving, yet so modest. It was about time that she was recognized for all of her hard work.
Debbie Kashino agreed.
“She’s not someone who is a famous person in the community. She’s just one of these people who has been in the background all these years, but without people like that I don’t know how this organization would survive,” she said. “She feels very embarrassed about getting this award because she’s not someone high profile, or in the news. My mom was saying, ‘Why am I getting this award?’”
To understand Louise Kashino now, you have to look at her past. After Pearl Harbor was bombed, she found herself in internment camps for two years, first at the Puyallup Fairgrounds and then at Minidoka, Idaho. It was there that she met her eventual husband, Shiro Kashino, who would go on to become one of the most accomplished soldiers of the Second World War: six Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star for Gallantry.
From there, they moved to Chicago until 1947, where she attended secretarial school. When they moved back to Seattle, they were not well received, faced with discrimination in employment and housing.
Louise Kashino has since used her experience, both from her stay at internment camps and as a wife of a war hero, to commit herself to the Nisei Veterans Hall and to Japanese American rights. She would serve as the president of the Women’s Auxiliary and use her organizational skills as a secretary to help out with events and further the organization.
“She’s really thought of as a matriarch in our organization. She’s a walking textbook, she knows everything,” Debbie Kashino said. “She’s very dedicated to helping people know about this time in history (the internment of Japanese) and I think she’s become very outspoken about it and wants to pass onto younger people the experience so it won’t happen again.”
Throughout the decades, not much has changed. At 88, almost two decades after her husband passed away, Louise Kashino is just as dedicated as ever. She’s been a long-standing member of the Executive Committee, helps with the monthly newsletter, daily incoming mail and events such as the Chow Mein Dinner and the Children’s Christmas Party. She’s even taking social dance lessons.
“At 88 she’s still very mentally active, very sharp, she’s very generous with her time, she’s always wanting to help other people, she’s always making sushi and providing lots of food for people (at events). She’s just done a lot for our organization,” Debbie Kashino said. (end)
Zachariah Bryan can be reached at email@example.com.