May Watari was born on July 6, 1922 to Masaki and Yachiyo Kinoshita in Portland, Oregon. She attended Woodlawn Grade School and Girls Polytechnic High School, where she graduated in 1941.
When WWII broke out with Japan, the Kinoshita family, along with other Americans of Japanese descent, were incarcerated in Portland in May 1942 and eventually relocated to Minidoka, Idaho, until April 1945. After enduring the hardships of being prisoners in their own country, the family returned to Portland and restarted their business, with help from May. She continued to help there until 1979.
In 1947, May married Jack Watari. The couple remained married for almost 53 years, until Jack's passing in 1999.
May was active with the Oregon Buddhist Temple, and had a strong passion and talent for Japanese flower arranging (Ikebana), having received awards and recognitions for her arrangements. She remained active in both of her passions for many years.
Surviving May is her son, Duane (Gayle) and granddaughter Hana, along with several nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers and gifts, the family requests contributions to the Oregon Buddhist Temple and Providence Hospice in her memory.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of May Chizuko Watari, please visit our floral store.