Motoyo Hamaguchi Bright

Date of Birth

April 10, 1930

Date of Death

August 7, 2017

Motoyo known affectionately by her friends as “Toy” passed on peacefully in Santa Barbara in the company of family. Friendly and generous with all she had, Motoyo delighted in making new friends and being surrounded by people.

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Motoyo was the eldest child of five. Her family owned a busy and successful spice business during her happy childhood. But, that drastically changed with the arrival of World War II. The multi-storied home and company were destroyed during the firebombing of Tokyo and Motoyo survived only by sheer luck. With determination, Motoyo’s family slowly recovered and rebuilt their lives after the war and during the US occupation.

Motoyo became employed at the US Airbase in Tokyo in the early 1950s, and met her future husband, Donald (Don) R. Bright. US authorizations for a serviceman to marry a Japanese citizen were daunting, but Don and Motoyo took great effort and persevered. Overcoming obstacles, they happily wed in Japan on January 19, 1952.

Motoyo and Don left Japan for the US; their oceanic trip from Tokyo to Seattle was long and arduous for an expectant Motoyo. The couple traveled east to Don’s large family in Indiana. As they drove through California, they could not forget the colorful houses and flowers, beauty, and warmth of the state. Shortly after arriving to the US, their son, Mark, was born. Motoyo experienced the snows and ice of the Midwest and one season was enough; Motoyo and Don set their sights on sunny California, driving west to San Diego. They had two more children, Jerd and Rita.

As an aerospace engineer during the 1950s – 1980s, Don worked during the golden era of space exploration. The family moved numerous times throughout coastal California and Motoyo kept everyone organized. Once the children moved from home, Motoyo joined the ranks of the employed. Some of these co-workers would remain dear friends until Motoyo’s final day.

A tragic illness took Motoyo’s mate, Don, suddenly in 1987. Those were dark days for the family given the loss of a most remarkable, loving, and generous husband and father. Motoyo resumed work for several more years and upon retirement, moved to San Francisco. She loved the City by the Bay. She was proud of the fact that her daily walk involved scores of blocks up and down the steepest of Nob and Telegraph Hills, well into her late seventies. Motoyo immersed herself at the San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Symphony. Motoyo loved all things Italian: the music, food, culture, art, style, and especially the Italian people. She had told her family, “In my heart, I’m Italian.”

In 2010, Motoyo moved to Santa Barbara to be nearer to her family. In 2014, Motoyo moved to Villa Riviera where exceptional caregivers made her welcome, comfortable, and socially engaged. On August 7, at exactly high noon Motoyo departed our world, released from Alzheimer’s. Motoyo is survived by sons Mark (Julie) and Jerd, daughter Rita (Jim), grandchildren Emily (Kevin), Jake (Casey), Dylan, sister Keiko, cousin Masaaki, numerous nieces and nephews, and the newest addition to her family, great-granddaughter, Kira Hana Little, born September 7, exactly one month following Motoyo’s passing.


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