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HATSUE “Cookie” (Sasaki) DESOUZA
March 20, 1921 ~ March 11, 2023 (age 101) 101 Years Old
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On March 11, 2023, our dear Cookie departed this world just nine days shy of her 102nd birthday.
Born in Hokkaido, Japan, Hatsue grew up on a rural farm, one of six children. Not taking to life as a farmer, she learned to sew and became a skilled seamstress. She eventually met and fell in love with Joe, a handsome but goofy American soldier stationed in Hokkaido during the Korean War. He affectionately coined the nickname, “Cookie,” which caught on as her preferred name. They were married in Japan, where their first son was also born. Soon after the war, Cookie relocated to the United States and settled into Joe’s family home in Little Compton, Rhode Island, where they welcomed two more children and happily resided for the next seven decades.
Despite their cultural differences, she and Joe had a beautiful relationship. Her devotion to him did not end with his passing, and she often expressed missing him. In the week leading up to her death, she spoke frequently of “My Joe.” We take comfort in knowing that she has reunited with her true love at last.
As her children grew, Cookie acclimated to life in the United States and built a thriving housekeeping and childcare business. There was no denying her strong work ethic, but many of her clients also recognized her kind heart and viewed her as more than an employee. Several kept in contact with her well after she retired in her 80s. Fiercely independent, she maintained her driver’s license until age 90.
In public, Cookie was quiet and reserved, her petite stature taking up little space. Among loved ones, she was known to have a colorful personality and presence. She had a sharp sense of humor, giant sweet tooth, tell-it-like-it-is demeanor, and courageous spirit. She appeared much more youthful than her years and had the wit of someone half her age, always quick with a joke. Cookie also had a deep appreciation for the natural world, and it seemed fitting that her birthday was the first day of spring. Resilient by nature, she persevered in the face of incredible hardship: beating tuberculosis as a child and surviving cancer twice as an adult, living through World War II in Japan, moving to the United States during an anti-Japanese era, acclimating to life as an outsider in a small town, learning English, and enduring the premature deaths of both her husband and eldest son. Her path in life was not an easy one paved by those before her. Instead she chose her own course, risking criticism and judgement for the chance to create a life filled with happiness and adventure.
Cookie was loved by so many. We will think of her often and strive to emulate her strength and grace. She will be deeply missed, always cherished and never forgotten. To have known her was a joy.
She is predeceased by her beloved husband, Joseph DeSouza, and son, Alan DeSouza. She leaves behind her son, Donald DeSouza; daughter, Donna Mendonca (Peter Mendonca); grandchildren, Jasmine Cleary (Mark Alves), Cody DeSouza (Edward Lehman), Elias DeSouza, Rachael DeSouza, Lilie Mendonca and George Mendonca; great grandson, Warren Lehman; and daughter-in-law, Regina DeSouza. They are joined in mourning by two of her siblings and several nieces and nephews still residing in Japan.
At Hatsue’s request, there will be no public services or visitation hours. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in her memory to the American Cancer Society.