‘Grandma’ Tazu Higashi found dead in her van


News staff writer

February 15, 2006

A fisherman found a missing silver van in the Willamette River on Sunday, and Lake Oswego Police confirmed Monday that inside was the body of beloved 79-year-old grandmother Tazu Higashi, formerly of Hood River County.

“She really was everyone’s best friend,” is how her oldest grandson, J.D. Bigelow, described “Grandma.”

Tazu’s car was found near the Canby ferry landing in Clackamas County, about 20 miles from Lake Oswego, where Tazu was last seen on Jan. 10. Tazu apparently died of drowning, according to a Lake Oswego police report.

The car was found next to the water but it had been submerged, and was apparently in that location for about a week, according to the report.

Capt. Don Forman of Lake Oswego police stated that there was no evidence of foul play.

Tazu lived in Hood River County until 2000 before moving to Lake Oswego, but Parkdale and environs remained home in her heart, according to family members.

Lake Oswego police received numerous reports of sightings in recent weeks, but Forman said none was “conclusive.”

Tazu’s family is feeling deeply saddened, yet grateful, on Tuesday morning.

“In the beginning you think you want closure and when the closure comes, it’s not that she’s alive and driving around and they found her,” Bigelow said. “It’s the harsh reality of how to find out.”

“There is never any consolation in this but now they found her and there was no foul play and to know she was in a place that was off the beaten path, it helps.” Bigelow noted that “none of us went by there a dozen times; it wasn’t like we were by there and missed her over and over.”

Bigelow said the family thanks “all the friends and volunteers and Lake Oswego police and in particular Det. Lee Fergeson.

“We can’t thank people enough for the encouragement and prayers. That has been a huge positive and ray of life through a really tough time,” he said.

Tazuye “Tazu” Higashi was born the daughter of Kanezo and Hisa Omori on Oct. 3, 1926, in Wapato, Wash.

In 1942 during World War II, the family was relocated to the Heart Mountain Internment Camp in Wyoming, where they remained until the end of the war.

Her Memorial Service will be Monday, Feb. 20, at 1 p.m. at Anderson’s Tribute Center, Hood River. (Please click on February 15 for a full obituary.)

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