Tim Woodward: “The nicest man I’ve ever recognized” | Group columns


The primary time I noticed Terry Shibata, he was smiling fortunately as he blatantly violated a no-parking zone on the ferry dock in Seattle.

It was unimaginable to overlook, waving his palms wildly as my spouse, one in all our daughters and I disembarked. It was price risking an costly parking ticket to ensure he noticed it.

There are folks you do not have to know for lengthy or must have an effect on you deeply. Terry was one in all them. Once we realized that he had handed away final month at age 86, we felt like we had misplaced an inspiration, a job mannequin for the way life ought to be lived.

He and I and a buddy in Saint-Louis had been the up to date equal of correspondents. Terry and Bob Hagar, my buddy from St. Louis, met on a gaggle go to and began exchanging emails. This led to the three of us exchanging emails and a protracted distance friendship was fashioned.

The rationale he was ready on the Seattle dock that day was as a result of he knew we might be within the space and had provided to take us to a Seattle Mariners recreation. We tried to reimburse him for the tickets he purchased, however he did not hear about it.

Within the recreation, that includes the unhappy Mariners towards the even sadder Baltimore Orioles, he stunned us by pulling the Costco sizzling canine out of his jacket pockets and providing one to every of us. Then he introduced his intention to go to the concession stand to purchase us some insanely costly mugs of beer.

“Let me discover them,” I mentioned. “I’ll include you.

“No no No. You keep right here and revel in your sizzling canine. I will be proper again with the beer.

After the sport he took us to one in all his favourite eating places. Regardless of repeated gives, he did not allow us to pay for dinner. It wasn’t till it turned clear that permitting us to take the be aware would have ruined his night that we agreed. He reluctantly allow us to pay the tip.

A resident of Everett, Washington, and an avid fan of the Mariners, Seattle Seahawks and College of Washington Huskies, he beloved to purchase their staff gear for folks, whether or not followers or not.

“He was very beneficiant,” Hagar mentioned. “He despatched us Washington Huskies caps, Seahawk blankets, College of Washington sweatshirts….”

A Huskies cap can also be hiding in my closet. He despatched it to me as a good-humored joke a number of days earlier than Washington performed Boise State on the 2019 Fiesta Bowl.

And I by no means mentioned a imply phrase concerning the Huskies embarrassing the Broncos.

Two years in the past, all of us met on the Hagars’ close to Saint-Louis. Terry insisted on sleeping on a settee in order that my spouse and I might have the spare bed room. We went to locations that required quite a lot of strolling which was troublesome for him on account of a again harm. He painfully moved to museums, the highest of the Arc de Saint-Louis and a recreation of cardinals, by no means complaining as soon as.

“He had been taking steroid injections for his again for over 20 years,” Toni Mullins, one in all his daughters, advised me. “The physician advised him he wanted an operation, however he continued to get the vaccine as an alternative. He did not need to let an operation intrude along with his travels.

Requested what number of nations he had visited, he replied that it could be simpler to rely these he had not visited. He traveled along with his spouse till his demise in 2009, then alone. He went to Antarctica – alone – within the early Eighties.

Throughout his 86 years, he labored on a fishing boat, in a cannery, pounded rivets on Boeing planes and made his method via an property of supermarkets, ultimately opening his personal – Terry’s Thriftway, in Everett.

He took his canine to church with him on Sunday. The canine fortunately attended the service with the remainder of the congregation. He later had a cat named Oreo and took her to church. Oreo needed to wait within the automobile.

She “shredded her padding,” Mullins mentioned. “He by no means received mad at her, although. … Oreo was positively spoiled. He fed his tuna uncooked. He had a full freezer for her.

Her father was one of many few survivors of the Minidoka internment camp, northeast of Twin Falls. It was one in all 10 camps established after the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor and america entered World Struggle II. Fearing that folks of Japanese descent would aspect with Japan within the warfare, the federal government ordered these dwelling on the west coast to depart their properties and report back to the camps. Over 9,000 have been despatched to Minidoka.

It was a shameful chapter in our historical past. Nearly all of these despatched to the camps, together with the Shibata household, had been loyal US residents. Whereas they had been interned in Minidoka, their enterprise, a Seattle bakery, was taken from them. As a baby on the time, Terry Shibata was too younger to completely perceive every little thing that had occurred. He as soon as advised me that what he remembered essentially the most about Minidoka was enjoying baseball with the opposite youngsters.

“He was 9,” Mulllins mentioned. “He might inform one thing was fallacious, however he had enjoyable to himself.

She remembers her father as “at all times glad and joking”.

His nickname: Hap. Shortcut to Pleased.

I had solely recognized him for a number of years. The whole time we spent collectively might be measured in days fairly than months or weeks. I did not even know his nickname till Mullins advised me about it.

Nonetheless, he did not want a very long time to make an indelible impression. His passing affected me as a lot as if it had been part of my life for for much longer. He was maybe the nicest man I’ve ever recognized.

My daughter who went to the Mariners recreation with us and hasn’t spent greater than six or seven hours with him in her life had the identical response.

“Of all of the folks I’ve recognized,” she mentioned, “Terry is the one I wish to be essentially the most.”



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