Meet Mitsuko Funakoshi
By Beverly J. Clark, Publicity Director
Meet Mitsuko Funakoshi, who prefers to go by “Mitsie.” Mitsie started her City career in the Controllers Office and retired from the same department after 22 years.
While still employed with the City, Mitsie moved to Oceanside and feared she may have to resign from the City. She found that she could take Amtrak to work even though she had to get up at 3 a.m. to get to work by 7:30 a.m.
During her lifetime, Mitsie has made some amazing milestones, one of which is celebrating her 100th birthday this past September. She celebrated her birthday with a party on Sept. 10. Approximately 55 people gathered to celebrate her birthday, including some L.A. City Retirees. Relatives from Texas, Indiana, Connecticut and Hawaii came to celebrate. At the party, Mitsie’s nephew, Glenn Yasukochi, shared different aspects of Mitsie’s long-lived life. Attendees enjoyed a Mexican buffet of tacos, quesadillas, taquitos and more. And to top it off, the birthday cake was a delicious white cake with raspberry filling.
Mitsie says she was living a happy life when World War II broke out and Japan bombed Pearl Harbor at the end of 1941. She was just about to receive her Associate of arts degree from Fullerton College when her family was forced to leave their home and livelihoods like so many Japanese Americans living on the West Coast at the outbreak of World War II. She had all the credits needed and was scheduled to graduate when the 1942 evacuation brought everything to a standstill. As circumstances would have it, she did not receive her degree until 1990.
Mitsie recalls that a notice was placed on their door stating that “All Japanese, both American citizens and non-citizens, are to be evacuated from the West Coast within two weeks. Any Japanese could relocate to any place in the United States if they had a place to go.”
Mitsie and her family were relocated to Ft. Lupton, Colo., to live on a farm owned by her father’s friend. Farm life was a shock! She grew up in Norwalk, and her family owned a grocery store. They went to the beach and played in the sun. Now she had to attend to the animals and get up very early. However, while on the farm, she met her husband, Fred, the farmer’s son. They married in 1944. They have one son, Gary, and one daughter, Debra, as well as grandchildren.
Mitsie was featured in Alive! in 2014 when she and her husband, Fred, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on March 15, 2014, and again in 2018 when they celebrated their 74th anniversary.
Mitsie says, “I don’t get around as much as I used to, and my daughter helps me a lot. I enjoy socializing and keeping up with friends by talking on the phone a lot. And that’s what keeps me going.”
Congratulations to Mitsie!