‘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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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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