Kikuye Hayashi of Seattle died on Sept. 13. She was 78 years old.
“Kiku was one of a kind,” Bill Tashima, a friend of Hayashi, told the Northwest Asian Weekly. “She was a good friend and, in spite of her busy schedule, she always found time for me.”
Hayashi was born on Dec. 17, 1942, in Rohwer, Arkansas, a World War II Japanese American incarceration camp.
After graduating from the University of Washington, she began a 30-plus year career with Boeing. She was a passionate community volunteer, serving on multiple boards, including ACRS, Neighborhood House, JACL, and the food bank at St Mary’s, donating time and money, and attending countless fundraisers and banquets.
“The community lost that rare person, the volunteer who shows up for everything,” said Tashima.
A staunch Democrat, Hayashi was also active in political campaigns and was given a lifetime achievement award by the Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle for her work.
“It is with a smile and fondness of heart that I recall how feisty and fun it was to sit on the board of the Women of Color Empowered Board with my sister in the movement for peace and justice,” said Winona Hollins Hauge. “Her brilliance and commitment to social justice and bridging the gap between the Asian and African American community will always be remembered.”
Sharon Sobers-Outlaw also served on the Women of Color Empowered Board with Hayashi.
“Definitely my sister who referred to herself as an Asian Queen. She will truly be missed.”
Hayashi was an avid reader as evidenced by her massive book collection, especially cookbooks, which she generously shared with those around her. She also had a love of fine china, silverware, and crystal. Her exquisite taste, love of shopping, and the quest for a bargain allowed her to surround herself with beautiful things. Her beautiful handcrafted cards will be cherished by many.
“Kiku had great artistic talent, especially with papercraft,” said Leslie Lum. “I looked forward to the holidays because I would receive a beautiful handmade card with intricate stamping and usually a joke about cats. It makes me smile just thinking about it.”
“I just loved her,” said Rosa Melendez. “She had very little filter, she said what she thought…you always knew where you stood with Kiku.”
Char Grinolds echoed that sentiment.
“[Kiku] was such a forthright and giving person. She did so much for the community and I truly will miss her.”
Kiku was predeceased by her father Shibo Hayashi and brother Joseph Hayashi. She is survived by her 98-year-old mother Kimiye, siblings Elizabeth Frisch (Doug), Katie Kiyonaga (Gary), and Michael Hayashi (Sylvia) and sister-in-law Doris Hayashi; nieces and nephews – Joe Hayashi (Jenny), Sarah Myhre (Paul), Jenny Garr (Rob), Adam Kiyonaga, Case Kiyonaga, and Michael Frisch (Anna); aunts, uncle, and many cousins. Her beloved kitty Little LuLu has been adopted by a family friend.
Hayashi’s family said amid the current restrictions, it will be difficult to organize a gala memorial “worthy of her memory” until sometime in spring.
“In the meantime, we ask you to be like Kiku,” they wrote in an obituary. “Buy some fresh flowers at Trader Joe’s, donate time and money to a deserving community organization, volunteer for a worthy (Democratic) campaign, share a meal with friends, pour some wine into a fine crystal goblet and toast to the loving memory of our dear Kiku.”