Life Goes on After Retirement

From Betty Morita, Nov. 13, 2000

Jr. has been busy since September 30 when he ceased working on patients, cleaning up his files, making minor repairs on the office building in anticipation of it's sale (so far no offers since August when it went on the market.) and helping a lot in the housework and laundry.....he's not interested in anything to do with cooking, tho'.  

I am still working as his associate, Roy Hamamoto, is still using his office with us and insurance claims need to be filed as well as patients billed and bills paid.  I anticipate working until tax time is over in April. Jr. said that when a writer makes a mistake, he can tear up the paper and throw it in the trash but when working on patients, especially in the mouth, if he makes a mistake he can't easily throw it out. Thus as he has gotten older the endeavor not to make a mistake has caused greater stress and consequently with his retirement he is enjoying the lack of stress. He misses the structure of having appointments and following a schedule and has made effort to develop a schedule.

He still exercises, still practices singing (even tho his Las Vegas gig is finished....I don't know if you knew that he sang "some Enchanted Evening" and "What Kind of Fool am I?" at the Nisei reunion in LV. He surprised many of his Clark and Division Street cronies with his skill.), still works the crossword puzzle in the daily Tribune, still putters in the garden and still goes to the office building daily to check the mail and check the heating system and the roof for leaks and he still enjoys interacting with Megan, baby sitting her when necessary and driving her to school when necessary.  He misses the cameraderie with his patients.  Who of you have gone to a dentist that spends almost an hour working on you and asking about your family, your work, your travels and your hobbies?  Many kind family members and friends have offered suggestions for what he can do to continue his interactions with people but at this point he is plenty busy and relishing a leisurely pace of life. 

As far as "tilting at windmills", Jr. has never conciously stated that he was going to improve race relations or go after the evil doers  who put us in camp, but in his own way has improved human understanding and appreciation, and race relations in an immeasurable way.  He has worked on white folks, black folks, Hispanics and all sorts of Asians. He has also worked on bank presidents, lawyers, judges, teachers, professors, janitors, day laborers and public aid patients.  It amazed me when I first started to work for him how much he talked to his patients and what he talked about. Often he would bring up the subject of internment, not with animosity but as a matter of fact and patients would be so surprised to hear about it and claim they didn't know such a thing happened.   Upon his retirement it was amazing to see the cards, notes and gifts he received from folks from all walks of life and all ethnic backgrounds.   With knowledge comes understanding and those several thousand folks who have passed thru Jr.'s life will have a greater knowledge of a Japanese American who has the same needs, wants, and hopes as Americans of any color.

We look forward to continuing with meaningful activities, traveling a bit,  maintaining our health (how lucky we have been so far!) with more time for exercise and of course doing more creative things also.  We are so grateful for the support and love of our immediate family as well as all our siblings and their offspring.   


Special messages for Betty and Junior's retirement


The party was held last night (10/28/00) at Brasserie Joe in Chicago. All the usual suspects were present except for Dorothy & Hiroshi, who are vacationing in Japan, and David Terada, who is serving as a "maid of honor" in a wedding down in Mexico (seriously)! Flora Hidaka made a special trip to celebrate.

Highlights of the evening include a humorous multimedia presentation created by David Morita and an emotional toast by Paul Morita. A good time was had by all. My parents were touched with the presence of their family and friends and were equally touched by the tributes by those who were not able to attend.

Mark Morita


It's interesting to me the way that people describe their terror in visiting the dentist. The majority of the people I know have some fear of the dentist that I just can't understand. A visit to the dentist always meant to me that I could visit with Aunty Flora before I got to go for a ride on Dad's chair. And boy was it exciting when he got the new "power" chair in the new office. And if I was good, I got to dig in the toy chest.

It's amazing to me that a trip to the dentist is still kind of exciting.

On my last trip to Chicago, I had an appointment to have my teeth cleaned for the last time in Dad's office. It made me a little sad to think this would be the last time I would be able to ride on dad's office chair. And I have to admit, I kind of hoped I could dig in the toy chest afterwards.

Thanks Dad, for saving me from the terror that my friends have of the annual visit to the dentist. Thanks for providing for all of us. Thanks for putting me through school. Thanks for being home at lunch while I was in grade school. Ah, forget it, I can't list all of them. Thanks for everything, Dad.

Now, at age 29, I have to go out and find a new dentist in a new city. I hope I find one that let's me dig in the toy chest if I'm good.

Paul Morita (the kid)


"This is the way you brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth…..". I will always remember Dad talking to the first graders at Hayt School about teeth and how to take good care of them. I remember the red tablets that were included in the dental care kits. The tablets made the dirty spots on your teeth turn red. All the first graders had red teeth for the entire day after Dad came to talk. Most of all I remember being pulled out of class (when I was no longer in first grade) to help Dad with his presentation. I loved the basking in the attention that he received. I was so proud that he knew so much and that he was my Dad!


Mom computerized Dad’s dental practice. At the time I did not think twice about it. Don’t all moms know DOS? Don’t all moms know how to make a spreadsheet? Now in retrospect, it amazes me more and more. I still cannot figure DOS out! I will always be grateful to mom for holding my hand with word processing when I was writing term papers and summarizing notes for school.

When their second to last computer was in jeopardy of imploding because of Y2K. Mom took on the challenge of purchasing a new computer and trying to convert their existing database to a revised system. Her tenacity and dedication to the effort were amazing! Just one of the many reasons, I am proud that she is my mom!

Julie Morita

Dad, Congratulations on your retirement! I guess a thank you is in order here. If you remember correctly, you were my very first employer. You had me cleaning up your office, filing, adding checks and developing x-rays. I can't remember what I actually made, but I do know that it was much less than the $10/hour that Julie, Paul and Dave made when they had the same job. No sour grapes here . . .

You had me polishing your floors at the old Granville and Broadway office with the antique upright polisher that scuffed more than it polished. I can remember you inspecting my sloppy work and very sternly having me redo it until it was as good as possible. Boy was that painful! What I did learn from that job was that I wanted no part of a career as a janitor. Perhaps that was the motivation that pushed me towards advanced degrees and jobs that allow me to sit on my butt most of the day!!! Actually, I know that your stern corrections helped mold me into someone with a pretty strong work ethic and also someone that pays much more attention to details.


Congratulations on your retirement! I guess a thank you is in order here.

If you remember correctly, you were my very first employer. You had me cleaning up your office, filing, adding checks and developing X-rays. I can't remember what I actually made, but I do know that it was much less than the $10/hour that Julie, Paul and Dave made when they had the same job. No sour grapes here . . . You had me polishing your floors at the old Granville and Broadway office with the antique upright polisher that scuffed more than it polished. I can remember you inspecting my sloppy work and very sternly having me redo it until it was as good as possible. Boy was that painful! What I did learn from that job was that I wanted no part of a career as a janitor. Perhaps that was the motivation that pushed me towards advanced degrees and jobs that allow me to sit on my butt most of the day!!! Actually, I know that your stern corrections helped mold me into someone with a pretty strong work ethic and also someone that pays much more attention to details. Thanks for your lessons in employment and thanks for brining home the "bacon" all those years!


Congratulations on your second retirement! Your first retirement was

downplayed by the very monumental arrival of me! Retiring from your teaching career to raise you kids right, seems to have paid off! Although we have been and continue to be a hard lot to raise, I believe that your day-to-day nuturing has enabled us to achieve and excel. Your day to day presence with dad has kept him organized and focused on that part of Dentistry that he has enjoyed the most -- gossiping and chatting! Your presence in the office has not only enabled dad to take his mind off the financial issues of the office, but it has also provided dad the means of company that he so much needs (you know how much dad doesn’t like to do things alone!). Having you around the office and always available as a lunch date has given dad a sense of security that allowed him to enjoy working 5 years after he was actually supposed to retire! Although you would have, undoubtedly, been successful in any other line of work you chose, your job with dad and at the office was probably the job that needed your abilities, strength and companionship the most. Thank you for sacrificing other career opportunities for the organization that needed you most -- our family!

Mark Morita

What can you say about Uncle Jr's "Spray them in the mouth while I stand over here" Dental Practice. You usually go to a dentist to have your teeth cleaned or have a cavity filled. With Jr., that was secondary. The primary reason you went to Uncle Jr. was to catch up on the latest family gossip or swap information on cars. (I found out things about my parents that I would have never known). But then what can one say while your mouth is wide open. Jr. had his captive audience.

Now that you're retired, don't bother Julie or Betty too much. Find a hobby like my dad did. Maybe you can become a school bus driver. You like driving and you like kids. The bus companies are always looking for responsible people. Or maybe you could become a model. There's a shortage of older Oriental men models. Whatever you do, stay active. Maybe babysitting Megan will become your full time job. Good Luck!

Love, Kevin, Susan and Windsor

Meanwhile, the only memory that seems so vivid about the practice is; many years ago when your dad opened and Tosh and I were over visiting, he was busy counting the cash that he made and was planning to deposit in the bank, on a Wednesday, of course.Don't know what I expected dentists to do with their money since I didn't know any , but I thought it was a funny scene. Even funnier, I still think they do it now....30+ years later.

Aunt Dorry Hosoda

Uncle Junior and Aunty Betty,

I could never figure out why I feared going to Junior for work on my teeth. Deep in the recesses of my mind I viewed Junior as Steve Martin as the biker dentist in "Little Shop of Horrors." That wasn't the case, of course, because he was the ablest and gentlest dentist I've ever had.

Then what could have caused it?

I think it stems from the time when Kevin, Carey and I were about 10. We'd sneak into Junior's room at Obachan and Ojichan's home and look at his Playboys.

Occasionally, he'd catch us and with his playful (it seemed sinister to me) Vincent Price-type laugh to shoo us away. I must have somehow linked Junior to "Pit and the Pendulum" or "The Cask of Amantiado."

That said, there is no truth to the rumor that I moved to Hawaii to escape Uncle Junior's dentistry.

The one thing I miss is Betty and Junior's house at Christmas time. It was always so warm and cheery in the dreary Chicago weather (something I do not miss).

You two may retire, but it's hard to believe you'll won't be active.

Stirling Morita

Here's my remembrance.......

My earliest experiences with dentists were not good. I remember my first dentist, whose face used to turn red while he drilled away, telling me that I didn't need novacaine because it wouldn't hurt......he lied. It did! I dreaded visits to be tortured like this, and the vision of a huge form in a white smock, backlit by the dentist's light, approaching with the double-ended picks and scrapers still sends a chill up my spine and an involuntary command to my bite-reflex.

I don't remember when Junior became my regular dentist, but I remember his office was above the drug store at Granville and Broadway. I used to take the "L", probably with Candy, for my appointments. I was apprehensive, given the extreme mental and physical tortures delivered by my previous dentist, but after all, this was Uncle Junior, the guy who used to make me laugh and provided me my first primal thrills via his famous Playboy magazines (notice how this keeps coming up).

I liked Uncle Junior as a dentist right away because he told me I had great, strong teeth (unlike Candy) and that I didn't need to see him that often. Also, he believed in using novacaine during the infrequent times I needed it. He also provided entertainment, by having me develop my own X-rays. With his operating theater directly at the corner of the building, it had lots of windows and was bright, so my earlier visions of the huge backlit, frightening dentist coming at me with the tools of the trade vanished.

Then Junior moved his practice half a block away, and I followed. He started wearing that gauze mask for protection, but I accepted that. He got new equipment, and I remember him proudly showing it to me. His office was a lot fancier, with a reception area and a private office, and he took on a partner, but I was still comfortable seeing him. We'd talk, when he didn't have his hands in my mouth, and I never felt like he was rushing to the next patient, unlike most dental assembly lines I've seen (with my kids).

I'll miss not visiting on a professional basis, although I have to admit that I've taken to extreme Junior's advice about having good teeth and not having regular appointments. I haven't mentioned Auntie Betty so far only because my visits had become so infrequent that I rarely saw her in the office.....although I know that she was an integral part of running the business side of the operation.

So, Happy Retirement, Uncle Junior and Auntie Betty! You can rest easy knowing that you helped one patient deal with one of his many fears. I just hope my next dentist believes in novacaine.

Carey Hidaka

Congratulations on your retirement. Now you can do all the things you didn't have time for. I dont remember if I had expressed my appreciation for your help for our down payment on the building on Lakewood. Because of that building things have been easier.

I know your patients are happy for you but are going to miss your chairside manner and gentleness. Because you showed me how to care for my teeth I dont have dentures. From our parent's teeth, I thought I'd have dentures by 40.

I really enjoyed working for you all those years. You never got angry, even when I goofed a few times with the xrays. I was so fearful of telling you about the spoiled X-rays (many patients not liking to take them at all), you just said you'd explain to the patient that we had an error in developing them. I'm sure there were other mistakes, but you were very patient with me.

I really appreciate your baby sitting for Karen. I know Emiko and Matthew

love having you as sitters. Thank you for making it easier for Karen.

And all those family dinners. Fabulous food and gracious hosts!!!

Thank you again for everything, things I can't remember right this minute, and have a great retirement.

Flora Hidaka

I really appreciate your help Jr. during a trying time, while we were still living in Chicago. I had a lump on my neck and after months of observation by Dr. Lestina, Dr. Studeville (sp?), your former professor, performed surgery to remove it.

I recall before the surgery that you chauffeured me either to the hospital or doctor's office. Enroute you shared words of encouragement to me since I must have shown I was dreading the worst. Your mere presence and words were very comforting. That was the worst hospital experience I ever had. The surgery went well, but my roommate would do nothing but non stop complain. Our room was right next to the elevator so there was constant foot traffic and conversation of people waiting for the elevator, day and night.

The head night nurse was the rudest nurse I have ever met.

On top of all that, the partial that was removed during the surgery was "returned" to my room but never recovered. The hospital would not take responsibility for its loss, so you were kind and gracious enough to replace it for me with no charge.

During recovery, I reacted to the streptomycin and you took me to the hospital several times to be seen by the resident, since Dr. Studeville was on a lecturing tour.

I really want to thank you for your kindness and thoughtfulness during that episode in my life and wish you and Betty "HAPPY RETIREMENT" AND "ENJOY!"

Love, Betty and Shiba Shibayama

Dear Auntie Betty and Uncle Junior,

Congratulations on your retirement!

Although you were both very busy whenever I visited as a child, you took the time and effort to make me feel at home in Chicago. Thank you for all the ball games, computer games, Christmas gifts, dinners, restaurants, etc.; you made me feel accepted during a very rough period of my childhood, which means more to me than you can imagine. The ability to balance one's job with personal commitments, restraints, and obnoxious nephews is a rare and commendable talent. In this sense, it must have seemed as though you had two jobs (especially with me around).

So, Auntie and Uncle, you both deserve your rest, and I hope you will have the opportunity to return to old lovable haunts and hobbies--whether they be art, writing, Jumble newspaper puzzles, or Lode Runner. Like everything else in your life, I'm sure you will master retirement with grace as well.

All the best,

Aaron Cole

Happy Retirement, Betty and Junior!

However, it is impossible for me to believe that we will be witnessing any slowdown in Betty's dynamic power and creative energies

What I admire most of Betty's many productive achievements is what she put together for the play William Hohri wrote for a Christmas celebration at the Museum of Science and Industry when I was a teenager. I can't remember whether Mark and Julie were even alive at that point in history because it was so long ago. It must have been in 1960. Knowing William, it must have been a play doubting the materialistic way we celebrate Christmas, one of his favorite themes. In one scene, I was dressed in a kimono while a circle of children danced around me, and I recollect choking on a line out of sheer fright.

But the true highlight of the play were the shoji screens that Betty designed as transition pieces which covered the entire length of stage at the end of each act. I believe there were at least four different pairs of them in wonderfully interesting geometric patterns of black and white. What struck me back then was the contrast between quality of the work Betty produced and the acknowledgement that she received in the program. Regrettably, no one had given her credit for the magnificent props she had created.

However, I do remember overhearing the remarks of several people in the audience who commented on the beauty of the shojii screens after the performance. The lack of recognition didn't seem to phase Betty at all. That night, I found Betty's attitude of nonchalance truly astonishing and now after having traveled many miles and years from that special evening in Chicago, I observe to be most uncommon.

To be talented is something remarkable; to be both talented and generous is indeed a virtue. But to be gifted and charitable without any expectation of praise is exemplary evidence of what the Japanese consider jo-hin-na: the state of true feminine elegance and refinement. Everyone should be as fortunate as I was then to receive such a valuable a lesson as I learned that evening at 'Christmas Around the World' at the Museum of Science and Industry. And so by way of a thank you, I share this recollection with you on the occasion of Betty's retirement, to give honor and appreciation for a most uncommonly gifted woman, Betty Kato Morita.

Talking about one's brother on his retirement is a peculiar thing, especially if the brother is Junior. There are so many disjointed images that need to be integrated into one perception in order to write something unified.

Junior went through so many metamorphoses that one thinks he must have been a bit of a actor to squeeze so many identities into one lifetime. Perhaps every person goes through a long succession of costumes in the drama called a lifetime. And it seems like Junior certainly went through his share.

As a little kid, I remember when Junior looked more like James Dean than a respectable dentist as he does now. Then there was the dramatic transformation into an MP who returned home from Japan in shiny boots with a gun in his holster and a bully club to match. . I don't know what he wore when he went to work at Mr. Russells' factory with mom and dad. But whatever clothes he wore, they probably didn't translate very well into his next role as a dental student at Northwestern University. I bet his clothes were covered up by the white dental smocks he wore, which I associate even today with the weird smells that emanated from his hands and the small bedroom where he studied with great interest the structure of human bones and extracted teeth.

Dental smocks became the costume for the remainder of his working life, except for those funny T-shirts he wore on his off-days, obviously gifts from Mark, Julie, Paul and Davey on Father's Day.

So what will you be wearing Junior now that your dentist's days are done? Will it be the attire of a gardener: broad-brimmed hat and glove? Or will you take up judo and start up your singing career again? We will be watching and cheering the next great metamorphosis of your life.

Love, Diana Cole

Dear Junior and Betty,

Congratulations on your retirement !!

I hope you will now have time to kick off your shoes and sit with your feet up for a bit.

I hope, too, that you have a great retirement party!

Mark, when you were still a very small lad, your auntie Diana and I got married. Your dad let us use his car for our honeymoon-- in some place in Michigan I can no longer remember. But I still remember vividly your father's kind generosity. It touches my heart as deeply now as it did back then.

Your parents, as you know, are the most wonderful people; so please given them a big hug for me !

Wayne Cole

Thinking back nostalgically over the years, I remember you as my little brother who shared my birthday. In fact, the day you were born dad had taken a birthday cake to school at noontime when you came into the world. You must have been delivered by Dr. Dumble as many of us were. I was told, I was delivered early in the morning and Junior at noon and Fumiko, late at night and we all arrived on the same day – November 20th.

You must have wondered why you were named Junior. A young handsome popular classmate, Junior Ogden, inspired me to select it thinking it was a name. I was in the third grade and not familiar with the meaning. It was appropriate because you are very much like dad with good sense of humor and well liked.

You were fun to be with – One incident I remember while working in the apple orchard, we heard someone greeting us inn Japanese "Oisogashi toki ni ojama shimasu." We looked and found Junior hiding behind a tree.

We had an enjoyable childhood with so many of us. Our neighbors, Koe and Tim Nishimoto, added to our numbers. I remember seeing Flora playing football with the boys. New Years was fun making mochi. It was mad of the old fashion and traditional way. "Usu" made from large tree trunk. The sweet rice was pounded rhythmically with 2 or 3 large mallets and mom would turn the mochi over at the appropriate time.

When Junior finally finished his lengthy academic years interrupted by his military career, it was a time to celebrate. We, the sisters, were discussing the importance of a capable partner for life being a necessity for him to have a successful career as a dentist and to have also a good family life. Then we learned he was dating Betty Kato – our prayers were answered. I cannot remember how we tried to promote this romance but perhaps he did not need our assistance. The men in our family are very much like our father – very warm, friendly and loveable ( I wonder if the children would agree). We decided Junior needed a strong, intelligent and stabilizing mate to back him Betty you were perfect for him and we are so thankful for you.

As my family knows, I love to become involved in so many things – not too sensibly sometimes. Betty has been my stabilizing force also. She has added so much to my life with wise and sound advice and counsel. You are a wonderful addition to our family.

Junior can be relied upon also. Being my brother, I can accept comments which I may not appreciate at the time but which need to be heard and acted on. I appreciate the warm family relationships we have and I always thank God for our loving and caring family.

Dorothy Kaneko

Dear Uncle Jr. and Auntie Betty,

Congratulations!! on your retirement from your successful dental business!!

It must have been nice to have been in a business that you were able to enjoy working and helping others.

I can still recall the times that Uncle Jr. was studying to get through dental school when we were living on Clark Street and also helping him paint his office at Granville and Broadway with Uncle Hiroshi doing the remodeling.

I also fondly remember and thank you for working on my teeth and giving me much advice, especially about girls. I'm sure that by giving your personal attention and care to your patients has allowed you to be a very successful and popular dentist. We commend you for caring more about your patients than wealth. We really missed your personal care when we came out to California.

May God bless your retirement years with good health and happiness.

With love and appreciation,

Bob Terada


I haven't forgotten the major change in your life. I have been busy at work with all the events occurring in Kyushu plus the fact that I have a tendency to become reclusive when I perceive a sort of shock in my worldview.

Betty, you'll have to forgive me when I focus so much on Jr. I know it is a major transition for you as well, but you remain so much a part of the younger people, the younger generation, that I have not yet absorbed the fact that you will be "retired."

When people around me, those who I have known for years, those who are near and dear and especially those who have been anchors in life for me, suffer tragedies or great setbacks or decide they're going to put their great abilities into a trunk and store it somewhere; I get introspective and "reclusive."

For some unexplainable reason, Jr, you and Bruce sort of meld together into my view of the world. There are personality traits that coalesce and there are lots of things that are different. You always startled me when we were much younger because you'd do things and perform (in Japanese plays, for example) that were truly impressive. I never perceived those abilities, would be awed and wondered about my own flaws in not being able to see these abilities. Flora also had the ability to perform in plays, like a school teacher in a play that I will never forget. Bruce also has great abilities that I don't have the foggiest idea of where they reside. That is one of the great gifts of life, I think. The potentials for every one of us seem limitless.

Your body-building was memorable in those early years, but what I remember with the greatest of clarity was your dating of Japanese beauties in Japan when you were an MP in Shinagawa. I think we still have a photo of you and Wakao Ayako, one of Japan's great actresses (but not such a nice person from what Chizuko tells me). I would guess that when you went to Okayama to see our relatives, there must have been a few broken hearts among our cousins and friends.

Hood River occupies a great deal of my attention lately and the wonderment of why we were so optimistic and happy in life in spite of the real events of the time. My own discovery about Issei is that they remained truly dreamers of the American Dream when the odds were stacked so high against them. (I can never remember a day that Mr and Mrs Kato did not have a ready smile in conversations.) They conveyed that balanced, high spirit in their own way.

Why shouldn't you, Katchie, Flora, Betty (a little later, Diana, also), and I always be The Man from La Mancha?

Most Nisei that I know are.

In this great paradigm shift for you as you retire from your profession, enjoy a new liberation.

You're always welcome to visit either Chizuko or me (I phrase it this way because she's still in Hayama cleaning up the house to sell and I'm in Sasebo in Kyushu). Workwise, I'll be here a while. I find that I can put up close kin in the BOQ. You'll find out how much of the Issei are still alive in Kyushu. The added bonuses are that the food is terrific and the ladies are so beautiful and courteous (especially to seniors).

Don't put too many things in the trunk for storage.

Claude Morita

Hi Betty and Junior:

Congratulations on your retirement. We are glad to hear that you have joined those of us who now have the freedom to do the things we want to do.

We hope that you will enjoy seeing other parts of the US and the world and benefit from interacting with other people and cultures. You may also want to take up new hobbies and new relationships in your professional field. I am enjoying a new life with the folks at MIT. We hope that you remain in good health and enjoy a good life for many years to come.

I am sorry that I wasn't able to get this off earlier in time for your party.

Walter Kato

Tributes, communications to and from family members: Junior, Dorothy

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