HISCHKE, Toshiko "Toshi" M., age 91
Died: Sunday, February 27th, 2022
A private family interment will take place at a later date.
The memorial gathering that was scheduled for Saturday, March 19, 2022 has been postponed.
Toshiko "Toshi" M. Hischke, 91, of Eau Claire died on Sunday, February 27, 2022 at her home.
Toshi was born on November 6, 1930 to the late Chounsuka (father) and Matsuno (mother) Ogasawara in Japan in the northernmost region of the main island, the Aamori Prefecture, in the small village of Tomabechi. She grew up in a small farm village where her parents grew rice and farmed for sustenance, and with any luck, would have extra produce to sell. The family always kept a cow to generate fertilizer for the family garden.
Money was hard to come by before the war and her father and mother would often seek work in the northernmost island of Hokkaido, where he would find work as a coal miner and later as a shipbuilder. Toshi and the rest of her siblings would be raised by their grandmother during these times and left to run the farm and garden.
Toshi would have been eleven years old when Japan brought the United States into the war. She would have been fifteen at the surrender and would lose an uncle at the battle of Guadalcanal. He never got off the ship. It was after the war, during the US Army occupation of Japan, that Toshi would create her own life. She often told stories of American fighter planes that would fire their guns into the hills to expend their ammunition before returning to base.
Fast forward to Toshi's teenage years and you would find her selling black market noodles to earn a living. By the time the occupation started turning the county around, the American presence could be felt in every area of Japan. One day, the now twenty something Toshi, and her girlfriends took a chance and attended a USO event put on by the US Army. This is where Toshi met her future husband, Robert Hischke. At the time of their meeting, the only English Toshi knew was "Yankee, Go Home!" It is interesting to imagine Toshi and her girlfriends trying to communicate with those handsome young Airmen in blue.
It would be an eight year romance for the farm girl from Japan and a farm boy from the US whose greatest dream was to put on a US Air Force blue uniform. As a postal inspector for the Pacific Theatre, it was expected that Robert would go to every base that held an American.
Toshi eventually took the middle name Mary to be united in marriage to Robert in a church and only after receiving the needed approval from the AF Base Commander. They were then stationed in the dessert of California where she gave birth to her only child, a son, William.
Toshi had a core of Japanese girlfriends while Robert was stationed in the service. G.I.'s with Japanese wives and half Japanese children was the normal for ten years until Robert retired from the Air Force in December of 1969. Those girlfriends would be a constant in her life and would stay in touch from the early '60's until today.
Her first flight to the US was as a newly married woman coming to meet her in-laws, Henry and Opal, and her sisters-in-law, all with a new language. They welcomed her into the German/Norwegian farm family. Henry and Opal had three sons, all who were 20 year Air Force veterans with wives from different countries. Toshi, of course, from Japan. The other two from Germany and France. Toshi throughout her life would spend a lot of time with her newfound sisters- and brothers-in-law.
Following Robert's retirement, the family would settle in Wisconsin in 1970. They lived a year in Marinette before settling in Eau Claire where Robert worked at the US Post Office. In 1972, they moved into their forever home on Ash Street. It was a small ranch house on a sand lot, but as the neighborhood grew, so did the little house. First came a grass yard with just enough black dirt to fill half the back yard, then trees, gardens, flowers, and plants. Toshi's farming childhood turned this blank canvas of a house into a charming flower laden home. Like most women of the greatest generation, Toshi was thrifty and an excellent seamstress. Sewing clothes for herself and others from the 1960's through the 80's.
She found the neighbors to be great people and slowly found the Japanese ladies of the area communities. There was nothing more beautiful to see than Toshi laugh with those who spoke her first language. Toshiko's Japanese girlfriends in Eau Claire didn't happen overnight. It took some ten years before she would find another Japanese friend that wasn't related to her husband's Air Force service. But, once they found each other, they formed tight bonds. Cookouts, restaurant outings and yearly celebrations bought out their best in friendship. Hours on the phone, speaking their native tongue.
The most grand period of her life would be when Bob and Toshi bought a lake house on Popple Lake. They enjoyed entertaining family and friends would visit from all over including Europe and Japan. At the lake one could relax, drink wine and laugh about life choices. They would fish with beloved nieces and nephews. It was also a time of many cribbage games and great food. She loved her American family and enjoyed many holidays spent together.
Surviving Toshi is her son, William, of River Falls; sisters, Yaeko (Yamauchi) and Yukiko (Yoneyama); brother, Yoshimi; many nieces, nephews, other family members and friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert; brothers, Ichitaro, Tokifusa and Masanori (both in childhood); and her sister, Kyoko; sisters-in-law, Lois Hischke (Donbert) died two weeks before Mom and Loralee Hischke; brothers-in-law, Paul Hischke, Jim Hischke and Richard Donbert; niece, Sandy Westberg; grand nephew, Jackson Clark; best friend, Yoshi; and neighbors, Carrie and Sally.