By Junior Morita


After the pastor at Ravenswood Fellowship Church in Chicago asked for prayers for the late Sus Hidaka and his family during the worship service this past Sunday, several folks came up to my wife, Betty and said, "We're sorry to hear about Sus, he was such a nice man!..he was my child's Sunday School teacher!" Indeed, Sus was such a nice man!

During WWII many Japanese American soldiers came from Ft. Snelling to Chicago to eat Japanese food which was unavailable to them in Minnesota. Sus came with Roy Kaneko and was introduced to my sister, Ruth at that time. Obviously, Ruth recognized that he was "such a nice man." Their subsequent courtship and marriage is remembered by them alone as the rest of the Morita family with the exception of Ruth and Dorothy and her husband, was in Minidoka Camp. Sus and Ruth did come to Minidoka so Sus could meet the the family and I, as a youth, was very impressed with his handsome appearance and confident bearing in his uniform. Folks used to say that he looked like a movie actor, Frank Lovejoy. I'm sure some of you folks never heard of the actor, but I will attest to that resemblance.

My earliest impression of Sus after our arrival in Chicago and his release from the military was how enterprising he was, buying Buildings , first on the South side of Chicago and later on the far North side of Chicago as housing for him and Ruth as well as for rental and investment. . Subsequently he bought a launderette business and building on the far West side of Chicago. Those early post war years were boom times for the launderette business as everyone didn't own washers and dryers and apartment buildings didn't have laundry rooms. Ruth and Sus worked extremely hard for long sweaty days not only sorting, and washing soiled laundry and, drying and folding the cleaned laundry but maintaining the equipment and the facilities also. They hired me to help them in their labors and thus enabled me to make money for my education as well as to help out our family budget. With his warm, friendly, quietly confident manner, he was well liked and respected by all his customers; many enjoyed talking sports with him, especially about his beloved Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Blackhawks. In what few spare hours he had, Sus loved to golf and bowl and shared his leadership skills as chairman of the bowling league. I remember times being very impressed when he very competently and confidently acted as master of ceremonies at various bowling banquets.

His daughter Candy and son Carey were born before the launderette days but spent their early years in the apartment above the business. During those days, male and female roles were pretty well defined and the father worked and the mother, even tho working was responsible for the child-rearing. After they opened the launderette I recall my sister, Ruth going upstairs from the launderette to care for the babies or sending me up to keep an eye on them and later, her running upstairs to touch the TV to see if it were still warm from the children watching it for long periods. But Sus and Ruth out of concern for the children's education soon bought a lovely home in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, so their children could attend excellent schools. This act enabled the children to get a fine education and participate in extracurricular activities and music lessons and to attend the colleges of their choice. He was a concerned and devoted father.

Having such a nice home in Skokie, Sus allowed us to hold many, many Morita family, gatherings there and the family numbered in the thirties and forties in those days. He was always a warm, kind, friendly, and gracious host.

Sus loved quality things and his homes were often attractively furnished with fine furnishings and he usually had the best of autos. He was always most generous in allowing me the use of his cars while I was a student and courting the girls. I didn't think I had much to offer the girls but I thought I looked pretty impressive driving up in the latest model of luxury cars. When my wife and I were married, Sus consented to be my best man and did so with grace and competence and he even lent us his brand new station wagon to use for our honeymoon!

I often told my wife, that I really had not been very motivated to go to college because I looked at Sus and saw how enterprising and successful he was. He was a role model for me. Sus did go to watch repair school and also attended Illinois Institute of Technology for a while and also expressed an interest in being a dentist. But he did become a successful businessman and after the closing of his launderette due to changing times and changing neighborhood he went to work in a business which allowed him to use the business skills he learned in his various investments. In part, he is what influenced my choices when I finally decided to attend college.

Daughter, Candy became a school teacher and lives and works in New York State with her husband Ron and daughter Mariko and son Kenji. And Carey has since become a successful engineer working in marketing for Motorola, living in a Chicago suburb with his wife Betsy and children, Dan, Caitlin, Chris and Sean. Sus was so proud of his family and welcomed every opportunity to visit with his children and grandchildren.

Five years ago Sus and Ruth celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at a wonderful celebration hosted by Candy and Carey at the Columbia River Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Oregon. I had to applaud Sus for staying married for fifty long years to the most energetic of the Morita girls who worked along with him with boundless energies in the launderette while raising their children and who in later years was constantly encouraging him to play tennis, or golf or take dance lessons or go walking or jogging for exercise.

Sus had always wanted to return to Colorado, where he had grown up, so when Candy and Carey had completed their educations, he and Ruth returned here. While working in Denver, Sus spent his leisure time becoming involved in bowling leagues, JACL, Rocky Mt. MIS veterans group, and the Optimist Club where his warm personality, business and leadership skills were put to good use. It is always sad to see someone deteriorating and suffering with a degenerative physical disorder as we saw with Sus during the past few years but my memories will always be of a warm, smiling, kind, generous, talented, hard working and nice brother-in-law who I would prefer to refer to as a brother and dear friend.

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

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