Mitsui Obata Bryant
July 1, 1928 – January 25, 2018
Mitsui Obata Bryant was born July 1, 1928 to Sayo Takahashi Obata and Hachiro Obata in Shinden, Sendai-shi, Honshu, Japan. She passed away peacefully with her husband, Albert, and her daughter, Annie, by her side on Thursday, January 25, 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is survived by her husband, CSM (Retired) Albert Stanley Bryant of Colorado Springs; her daughters: Betty Grace Zaiser (Dirk), Boone, Iowa; Merry Elizabeth Bryant-Cavanah (Kem), Schuyler, Nebraska; and Annie Katherine Bryant-House, Colorado Springs; eight grandchildren: Stephanie Dub (Jerry) and Robert Jones, children of Betty; Kathryn Kemerling (Justin), Kristyn Kennedy (Ricky), and Kellyn, children of Merry; and Thomas House, III, Joshua House, and Matthew House, children of Annie; and eight great-grandchildren: Ellie and Joshua Dub; Steven and Patrick Jones; Carson, Colton, and Everly Kennedy; and Emmalyn Grace Canfield-House.
Mitsui was the 4th daughter and 6th child of eight children. Her parents were rice farmers who valued education and a solid work ethic. Growing up, Mitsui was an obedient child who naturally excelled in all subjects, especially mathematics, calligraphy, and art. Her father died when she was 8 years old, leaving a widow with eight children. In an attempt to help the family, Mitsui begged her mother to be sold to the circus. While altruistic on the surface, Mitsui confessed it was more for selfish reasons---the excitement that circus life appeared to offer. Fortunately, her mother never even considered the idea. After hearing stories of her childhood for many years, her own children took liberty with one story in particular. Her family endured many hardships, especially after the loss of her father. The story has morphed into this today: Mitsui had to walk ten miles to school barefoot in the snow without a coat. Uphill both ways. Even in the summer. She was teased mercilessly by her daughters about this and whenever she protested the validity, her children embellished even more each time.
Mitsui survived the shelling and bombings during World War II as a teenager, having been taken from her home to work in a munitions factory for the Japanese war effort. During the American occupation of Japan, she was employed by the US Army, where an American nurse gave her the American name of “Betty” after the popular movie actress of that time, Bette Davis. Friends called her this nickname for years. Later, Mitsui met a young soldier from Texas with whom she would eventually marry, travel the world with as an Army wife, and raise three daughters. Her love and devotion to her husband, CSM (Ret.) Albert S. Bryant, would last 65 years and four days of marriage. In one of their first encounters, Al was in his Military Police Jeep. He asked, “Is your name Betty?” In her best English (taught to her and the other Japanese girls working at the US Army Hospital mess hall by the Captain in charge of the facility), Mitsui replied, “None of your damn business!” Mitsui supported Al’s military career for 27 out of 30 active duty years. She easily made every house a home and every neighbor a friend. She managed to turn cinderblock walls and odd sized windows and rooms into a place where incredible family memories were made and still cherished. She was the best, loving mom to her daughters, and a wonderful grandmother and great-grandmother. She loved singing her favorite Japanese children’s songs to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Mitsui cared for and deeply loved each, finding something special in each child.
Mitsui knew how to stretch a paycheck. Both she and Al lovingly sacrificed ‘extras’ for their family. When money was tight, she would wear Al’s boxer shorts (“No one could see them”) to save even the slightest amount of money, all the while her children always had the best homemade clothes. She dyed her leather shoes and purse to match the season: white for spring and summer, black for fall and winter.
There was nothing she couldn’t do. Mitsui did not know the meaning of the word “can’t.” If she didn’t know how to do something, she figured it out to perfection. Mitsui was self-taught in sewing clothes, stuffed animals, and dolls for her family and friends. She sewed everything from dresses, slacks, blouses, jackets, overcoats, prom and wedding dresses, maternity outfits, and baptism gowns. A Santa costume she made transformed Al into Santa for their grandchildren, the children of friends, and other children in the community. The number of Halloween costumes she made for her children and grandchildren were countless, from Raggedy Ann and Andy to Ninja Turtles and Ghost Busters, to black cats and leopards, clowns and Dracula. Mitsui also sewed costumes for her church’s Last Supper reenactment (to include Jesus and Judas robes and beards). Mitsui was never idle, even while watching television at night she knitted, hand-pieced quilts, and crocheted. She taught herself how to knit by taking apart a sweater to see how it was constructed. Not having knitting needles, she used chopsticks instead. Her interests continued in cooking, baking, and professional cake decorating. She loved her yard. Whether it was government quarters or their own home, Mitsui’s yard was transformed into a palette of colorful trees, flowers, shrubs, vegetables, and fruit. She earned many awards for best yard in both military and civilian communities. She loved to fish with her husband and played penny poker with friends. She was tough to beat in Mad Dog, a board game where she usually was the Grand Champion of Champions. Her children learned how to play jan-ken-pon from her, although others called it rock-paper-scissors. She was an active member of Soldiers Memorial Chapel at Fort Carson, where she was an usher, choir member, VBS teacher, Sunday School teacher, Chapel Hostess Committee, and a member of the PWOC. Mitsui was a star-point Electra in the Order of the Eastern Star, Chapter #9, having been commended by the Most Worthy Grand Matron of New Jersey for memorizing her star point ritual better than any other member of the chapter. Upon receiving her US citizenship in 1958, the Judge commended Mitsui for memorizing the Preamble to the US Constitution and answering all questions without making one mistake.
Her children learned many things from her.
On life: “If God wanted you to have a tattoo/piercing, you would have been born with them.” “My mama always said, ‘No man is going to marry you if you don’t know how to sew.’” “Wear clean underwear, you don’t know when you’ll be in an accident.”
On being an Army Brat: “If you don’t like this new place we’re living, it’s your own fault. You have to go out and find something to like.” “If you’re bored, I’ll find something for you to do.” “If you want to have friends, go out and make some or you’ll be stuck playing with your sisters.”
Fond quotes: “Have you been petting a dog? Yes, you have!” “Have you brushed your hair? No, you haven’t.” “Hurry up and get your degree so you can stop working with sick people” (spoken to the RN daughter) “This wine is making me dingy-dingy.” “I love you, honey.” (said often to Al)
“Stop singing.” (said often to Al) “You look hungry, have some more.” (said to everyone) “I made all the clothes for my daughters and not one of them ever made me anything.” (said to all three daughters)
Mitsui recalled her journey across the Pacific Ocean to the United States. As the ship sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco Harbor in February of 1954, she knew she could not look back to her old home, her familiar culture, her native country, and the family she left behind. It was a bittersweet moment as she then embraced a new land, a new country, a new home. It is much like now with her passing, Mitsui leaves behind a family who loves, cherishes, and misses her already as she embraces her new life in a much better place. Mitsui was a strong, intelligent, and beautiful woman. She was an amazing wife, mother, and friend. The void she leaves is as huge as love and memories she gave us. The family would like to thank Morningstar Memory Care at Bear Creek staff and care managers of Mitsui during her illness.
Visitation will be at 1:30 p.m. and service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at Shrine of Remembrance “America the Beautiful” Chapel, followed by burial in Evergreen Cemetery.