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Class of 1965 classmates Theresa Kamachi, Kristin Nakaguchi, Janice, Ho, and Debbie Nomura hand out raffle tickets prior to the Maryknoll Grand Reunion on May 15. They have been childhood friends since kindergarten. Maryknoll Catholic School in Little Tokyo was open from 1926 to 1995. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)



Former classmates take a moment to pose at the Maryknoll reunion. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

Were it not for my friend at our table at the Maryknoll Grand Reunion last Saturday, a photo which appeared in Horse’s Mouth column in the Rafu this week may have never seen print. It was another show of the “power of the press,” but this elicited flattering  comments

Yas Tokita from Las Vegas, snapped the picture on Rafu Shimpo photographer Mario Reyes’s camera. Yas also happens to be a prewar Maryknoll School graduate, but the school was in Seattle.

The all-class reunion was  held at the Quiet Cannon restaurant in Montebello and for the first time brought together Maryknollers of all ages.

A Maryknoller from Japan, Father José Hamel, (a.k.a. Brother Pierre who drove school buses in the’60s at the Hewitt Street compound before returning to Maryknoll Seminary to be ordained a priest in 1985) opened with a prayer as the three-course dinner was about to start. A little later, Kathleen McShea (Sister Kevin Maureen) music teacher at Maryknoll School, rendered the school song with friends a cappella.

In lieu of a guest speaker, emcee Geoffrey Yamamoto (‘66) and another alumni were yelling out numbers from the podium throughout the evening, calling graduates to pose for class pictures at the makeshift studio with Bobby Kunihiro (‘68) behind the lens.

Among the early graduates were Vincent Doi (‘26), whose daughter Maryknoll Sister Joanne Doi (‘70) from Berkeley was also present; Frank Shoda (‘29) and Theresa Yamamoto Kushi (‘29). Her daughter Marianne, who is morning anchor for NBC San Diego, also attended.

Vincent Doi, a graduate from the class of 1926, is joined by Simone Fujita, a member of the graduating class of 1994. (BOB KUNIHIRO)

When our 1932 classmates (Dr. Henry Ema from St. Louis, Okuni Uyeda Yamamoto and Yoji Uyeda) were being escorted to the corner studio for a class picture, we passed the table to be greeted by the white-haired Michael Yamamoto (‘57). His brother Timothy (‘60) I met at the outdoor registration area. Ken Kasamatsu (‘60), now president of Pacific Commerce Bank, came by to say “hi.”

Offering an estimate about attendance, Karl Nobuyuki (‘59), onetime National JACL director and in retirement (now president of San Fernando Valley JCC in Pacoima) felt about 500 came. His 18-minute reunion video was a wistful way to close the evening.

Chairing the Grand Reunion was Shiz Morita (‘60), who came up with the idea a year ago. And Tina Fukunaga contributed much to this story.


Harry K. Honda, editor emeritus of the Pacific Citizen, is a member of Maryknoll class of 1932.



  1. Thank you for this wonderful story. My father, Vincent Doi, is pictured and mentioned as a member of the class of 1926. I graduated from Maryknoll in the class of 1968. My two brothers and two sisters are also graduates. I could not attend the reunion due to family health issues but it was nice to be able to read about the event.

  2. Christine Minami on

    What a nice surprise to see the Maryknoll Grand Reunion in the Rafu! It was a nice article and everyone in charge of the event put a lot of work into it. A big thank you to their committee. Just a small note: “Kristin Nakaguchi” is actually Christine (Nagafuchi) Minami !! And, indeed, the four of us have been life-long friends, who still get together regularly even though I am in Sacramento now. Thank you again for the great article.

  3. Dear Seattle Maryknoll alumni,

    As an historian on Bainbridge Island, I wrote a National Historic Register nomination of Strawberry Cannery Cove, the historic and cultural landscape of the Island’s pre-WWII strawberry cannery. Included were mentions of how the site was used for swimming especially after daily berry harvests and after the season was over in late July and August.

    One old timer recalled that young people from Maryknoll School in Seattle used to come over to Bainbridge Island to camp out in the summer time. He said they used to come down to the cannery to swim on hot summer days. The water is warm then.

    I recalled this when I recently received an inquiry from a woman in Detroit whose father died six years ago. He was in the 442nd. She and her family are planning to attend the Minidoka Pilgrimage from Bellevue (Seattle) to Twin Falls, ID, in late June, 2011. (It is a great experience. I attended in 2006). She wants to visit Bainbridge Island to try and find the place where her father, who was a Boy Scout then, camped out with Maryknoill School students probably in the 1930’s.

    Perhaps one of your elder alumni such as Harry Honda, ’32, who wrote your reunion story or others know about this camp or maybe even have photos or memories of it and can tell me about them. Any historic resource you can provide can be shared with our local japanese American Heritage Project and Bainbridge Island Historical Society.

    Most respectfully,

    Gerald Elfendahl
    7823 Westerly Lane NE
    Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
    (206) 842-4164
    e-mail: [email protected]

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