Betty and Art Shibayama's 50th anniversary

June 18, 2005

Las Vegas

Photos by Bob Terada

Text by Brian Shibayama

As Betty and Art arrived at the Las Vegas airport, they were greeted by a limo driver carrying a Shibayama sign. Unfortunately Betty and Art walked right past the limo driver to the baggage carousel. The limo driver was informed of the desired surprise effect and began walking around Betty and Art with the Shibayama sign hoping to catch their eye. When the limo driver realized the
futility of his efforts to complete this monumental task, he called out their name and Betty and Art were finally surprised.

After getting settled in, some of the guests began visiting Betty and Art’s suite. As a decoy for the “big surprise”, Betty and Art were previously informed that they needed to wait to eat dinner at 9PM because they had reservations at Emeril’s restaurant. At 8PM, Brian’s mobile phone rang and the surprise guests had arrived. When the surprise guests arrived at Betty and Art’s suite, Betty was overwhelmed to see her cousin Haruko Kayano, Keiko and Akiko Kishimoto, three generations of relatives who flew in from Okayama, Japan.

Betty, Art, Bekki, Brian and the 3 surprise guests squeezed into a limo for a ride to the Stratosphere to dine at the Top of the World restaurant. A nice dinner with a wonderful view was enjoyed by all. Upon our return to the Monte Carlo, our travel weary surprise guests must have been exhausted as it was almost 1AM. But Art, trooper that he is, wandered over to the craps table.



Later at the Monte Carlo, final preparations for the party were being completed and at Betty and Art’s suite, more guests were arriving and more wonderfully astonished faces were seen as the surprise guests returned from their shopping session.

The party started with hors d'oeuvres and people getting re-acquainted and introducing themselves. Moritas, Shibayamas, more family and friends. An impromptu introduction of all guests was requested. So as everyone was seated, they were requested to introduce the person to their right, where he/she was from and his/her relationship to Betty and Art. After the lengthy biographies by the head table 4, a quick modification had one person from each table introducing the other guests at his/her table. Highlights had Uncle Junior skipping his wife Betty, Randall forgetting the difference between the words son/daughter and Patrick, Brian’s boss, introducing his wife of 2 years as someone he just met 2 hours ago.



Introductions were followed by Brian’s welcome, which went something like this:

Our family would like to thank everyone for joining us for this happy occasion. Since almost everyone here is from out of town, originally I was going to recognize Flora and Bill Hidaka for making the 4 mile drive from their home here in Las Vegas, but we have a few surprise guests from Okayama, Japan. Haruko Kayano and Keiko and Akiko Kishimoto. Donna’s not here but I’d like to thank her for helping us with this surprise because which other Morita would have been able to keep this a secret for nearly 2 months? And we’d also like to give a special thank you to Lori for coordinating the folding of the frogs, which are in your favors. (Flowers were presented to Haruko, Keiko, Akiko and Lori).



In a few minutes we’ll be handing out a Betty and Art trivia quiz. At the end of dinner, we’ll collect one completed quiz from each table and the table with the most correct answers will win a small prize. And I just checked the sports book and tables 2 and 4 are the favorites with table 3 the big longshot. Now I have to admit before my boss confirmed he was attending I told him a couple of the answers. And I don’t know if he actually remembers those answers but just to be fair, if there’s anyone else here who can prove they have anything to do with approving my timecards and expense reports, just come see me for some answers. And for anyone who doesn’t think that’s fair, welcome to Las Vegas.

The best part of planning this party has been learning facts and stories about my parents. Like how Art as a gift for Betty before he went overseas made a record of him singing with his friend on guitar. Unfortunately that record is probably in an unknown basement in Chicago or selling on eBay under the Milli Vanilli label. So to set the mood for this evening, I’d like to read from a card Art sent to Betty on their first Valentine’s Day. And it would probably help if you all say “awww” after each line so my dad will still talk to me later.

My dearest Betty,
Honey here is one more holiday I wish I could be near you. It sure is a shame to spend our first Valentine's day so far apart from each other. I sure miss you with all my heart and I guess we'll have to spend one more away from one another but after that we'll spend every one we can together my darling and we'll make a real holiday out of it won't we Betty.
Love and kisses,

Now if I had known, we had sentimental stuff like this lying around that I could copy maybe I wouldn’t still be single. But that’s what this evening is about. My parents commitment and love for each other and for family and friends, all of you. I know some of you are mainly here because we’re in Vegas, Dave, Susan, but I am truly touched that you all are here for my parents. Thanks again


Uncle George provided a toast/roast which mentioned Betty and Art’s “wild sides” which involved missing a few spares in bowling and walking a couple batters in softball. Bob followed with grace and
dinner was served.

After dinner, Betty and Art cut the cake without incident. Then a heartwarming presentation of photos and quotes was displayed as Pam accompanied on keyboards with “Pachelbel's Canon in D”, “Let it Be”, “The Last Time I Felt Like This” and “The Theme from the Titanic”.

Pam continued on keyboards as Paul-Erik joined her on sax for lovely renditions of “All the Things You Are” and then “The Nearness of You” with Pam on vocals. With Pam still on keyboards, Uncle
Junior sang Betty’s request of “Because” and followed with his selection of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Pam completed the beautiful music set with two of Betty and Art’s favorites “Stardust” and “At
Last” with Betty and Art dancing at the end of “At Last”.



Brian announced the quiz answers and to no one’s surprise table 4 won with 17 correct answers. Everyone at table 4 was presented with a $5 chip. Bekki read touching tributes from Carey
and Arnold. Diana, Wayne and Cherie presented their own heartfelt tributes.

Betty and Art expressed their appreciation to everyone and conversations continued until we had to vacate the banquet room. A number of people went to Brian’s suite for drinks and snacks and the
last 4 night owls made their way down to the casino and had moderate success. And with that the evening was over, much too quickly.

Keiko and Mayuko Kishimoto, cousins from Japan


Betty and Art - Congratulations on your 50 years together! You are both so young in spirit, it’s hard to believe that so many years have gone by. Please take care of your health so we can celebrate the next stage of your marriage! I remember Art’s visits to Ojichan and Obachan’s apartment on Clark Street during your engagement. My family lived right across the hall, and I remember following Betty’s ‘handsome suitor’ around whenever he came to visit! Both of you were so patient and never made me feel like the pest I was! I guess I continued to take advantage of your indulgence of us ‘kids’ and whenever we stopped by on the West Coast on our way from Japan to Chicago, especially when Hikaru was young, we always stayed at your house and you truly made us feel welcome. Your dedication to family and to doing what’s right and has to be done is an inspiration for all of us! Thank you for being who you are - two very special people!! - Donna Tamaki

Art and Betty,

             I can not believe that 50 years have lapsed since the days that Betty talked excitedly about dating at the La Salle Mansions home that we shared. "Baby" could not possibly be dating. We had always been protective of Baby until Diana came along. Both were, and are, special gifts from God. She was just a baby and I had to make adjustments myself.

             It's fortunate, in a sense, that I was not there when you, Betty and Art, were dating seriously. I think that I would have had to have a "man to man" talk with Art. It would have been a funny talk, I'm sure. What did I know about being a man?

             Magically, you both lived on Magnolia Street and Mom and Pop would tell me how well you were doing. How could Art, this young athlete from Peru, know so much about auto repair when even Paul had challenges doing that? I liked using Chicago addresses for home addresses when overseas, since Hood River still had had an angry tinge. Besides, La Salle and Magnolia had fancier images than Route 1 Box 29.

             I am grateful to my core for you taking in Bruce during one summer vacation and teaching him to be a teen-ager in Chicago. He learned lessons in a few weeks that have remained with him over his entire life. He learned about family, caring, and appreciating opportunities that exist around anyone, around any one of us.

             San Jose is roses, artichokes, kaki trees, maguro, good wine, energetic family life, and oya koko. San Jose is, in my mind, the Shibayama family (in Japan, a family relative is often referred to by where he or she lives). Like Kyushu, where the Shibayamas have roots and tradition, the Shibayamas have jo, one of those all-encompassing terms meaning feelings, sentiment, emotion, passion, love, heart, human nature, and the like. It is understandable that Mom and Pop felt great comfort with you both. God and Mom decided that San Jose would be the place where she would leave us.

             "Looking to the New Century," the title of a chapter of Daniel M. Masterson's book, The Japanese in Latin America, summarizes for us where we have been and a little bit of how you have lived your lives. May you both, Betty and Art, have 50 more years of humanity, enrichment and jo in the new century.

- Claude and Chizuko

I tell the following to show how important Aunty Betty and Uncle Shiba are:

One day, Aunty Betty e-mailed me to advise that an expert on the Peruvian Japanese bid for reparations was coming to put on workshops in Honolulu. There were no news releases -- it was just Aunty Betty.

I asked a reporter to check it out and see if we could find someone locally as an example of the Latin American Japanese internment. She did a piece leading off with Elsa (Higashide) Kudo, whose brother(?) was Uncle Shiba’s best man, and whose father owned the building in Chicago that the Shibayamas had purchased.

Then the days after Sept. 11, 2001, I go to the Peruvian Japanese Latin American group gathering on the Big Island. A woman was standing outside the reception. I thought it was Mrs. Kudo, but it turned out to be Yoshie Tanabe, who had been supporting Uncle Shiba in his suit for justice. "Oh, you must be Stirling," she said.

I thought initially it was a bit of "Seven Degrees of Separation," but it was more like One to Two Degrees of Separation. And the more I thought about it – it shows how much impact Aunty Betty and Uncle Shiba have had on the Japanese American community.

- Stirling Morita

Shibayama 50th Page 2

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

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