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Ruth Atagi

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Ruth Atagi

December 14, 1938 - February 25, 2013


Ruth Keiko Atagi (nee Shimizu) passed away on February 25, 2013 at Kootenay Lake Hospital in Nelson, BC with family at her side.  She was 74 years of age.  She is survived by her husband Yute (Yutaka), her sons – Gene (Susanne) of Campbell River, BC and Dana (Valerie) of Smithers, BC, and her sister-in-law Aya Higashi of Kaslo, BC.  Ruth was born on December 14, 1938 in New Westminster, BC to Rinzo and Ayako (Eleanor) Shimizu.  She was preceded in death by her father, mother, step-father (Dick Magami), and older brother Daniel.

Ruth was two years old when her father became ill and passed away early in 1941.  Ruth’s mom Eleanor endured the forced moved to Kaslo with her two young children later that year.  Ruth spent her childhood years interned in Kaslo along with many other Japanese Canadians and graduated from Kaslo High in 1955.  Ruth began her nursing training at St. Paul’s Hospital School of Nursing in Vancouver during the fall of 1957 at the age of 18.  She graduated from the program in the fall of 1960.  It was during this time period when Yute would occasionally drive from the Kootenays to visit Ruth in Vancouver for a weekend and then drive all night to be back for work with the railway for Monday morning.  

Ruth and best friend, Betty Reimer, undertook a big journey to Toronto after their graduation in 1960 to practice as registered nurses for about a year until a position became available at the hospital in Trail and Ruth moved back to BC. On April 21, 1962, Ruth married Yutaka Atagi in Kaslo and soon after began raising her family.  1970 was when Yute’s job with CP Rail moved the Atagi family from Kaslo to Gore Street in Nelson.  Ruth had taken a 15 year hiatus from nursing to be a full time mom for Gene and Dana.  In 1978, Ruth recertified her training and once again became a practicing registered nurse at Mount St. Francis Hospital with extended care patients.  Ruth retired in 1995 after being diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disorder known as polyarteritis nodosa.  In 2007, Ruth was diagnosed with lung cancer.  She won the battle with her cancer but the treatment left her to deal with COPD and a life of being on supplemental oxygen.  Even with all of this, she still was known for her brilliant smile right up until her last day.

Ruth loved to camp and fish.  Yute would say she loved fishing more than he does.  For the past several years, Ruth did not spend much time on the lake but certainly enjoyed the luxury camping life with the great friends at Schroeder Creek Resort where her smile and laughter could be seen and heard from a good distance at almost any time of the day.  She will be dearly missed by her family and many close friends. 

The family wishes to thank Dr. Richard Milde for his exceptional care and treatment he provided to Ruth over the years.  A memorial service was held on Saturday, March 2nd in the chapel of Thompson Funeral Home in Nelson, BC.  The family requests that donations may be made to the Kootenay Lake Hospital Foundation in memory of Ruth. 


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Pages: 12

From: Thompson Funeral Service Ltd. Staff

Thompson Funeral Service Ltd. Staff send our condolences to family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

From: Evelyn and Ted Cartlidge
Relation: friend and nieghbour

She was always such a friendly nieghbour she will be sadly missed by her friends and family.

From: Eileen, Lois, Kaya & Leah
Relation: cousins

We will miss your visits to “the coast” to see us. We remember calling you “Aunt” Ruth which you quickly insisted was not necessary. Thereafter, you were just Ruth, our favorite out-of-town cousin who was always so very easy-going, kind and fun.
Love to Yute, Gene, Dana, Suzanne & Val.

From: Valerie Purnell
Relation: Family

I believe that I now truly understand the meaning of “gone, but never forgotten.” Ruth was such a special lady and I feel honoured to have known her. She had such a big heart and a brilliant smile and a kind kind soul. I am sending many warm hugs to Yute, Dana and Gene from Smithers today and wishing I was there with you. To Ashley and Courtney, I am thinking about you too as losing Mrs. Atagi must feel like you have lost a Grandma. She so loved you both. XO

From: Joan & Wayne Baker
Relation: Friends of Dana

Dana so sad for you,your Dad and brother. Our thoughts are with you at this time and we will ssee you when you get home.

From: Loralie & Ray Euverman
Relation: Friends of Dana

I am so sorry to hear of your loss Dana. The Euverman family sends out their deepest sympathy to you and your family members. Memories are a treasure to have and to always look back on. You remain in our thoughts and prayers.

From: Chuck and Elaine Hurley
Relation: A Fellow workmate and friend

Ruth was one of the best Registered Nurses in the Kootenays. I had the priviledge 0f working with her at our favorite Mt. St. Francis, we also shared Shop Steward duties. Ruth always had a smile and a joke. She loved being the sports Mom-Hockey, Baseball you name it. My dear friend was very proud of her three boys-Yute, Dean and Dana.
Love, Chuck and Elaine and family

From: Ray and Ann Renee
Relation: a very dear friend

We have lost a very dear friend. Ruth was a special lady. She always had a smile and was so kind and caring. She looked after Shawn and Lisa while we went on a holiday. She meant so much to Ashley and Courtney. She was like a grandma to them. They will miss her so much
We send hugs and our love to Yute, Gene, Dana, Val and Suzanne.

From: Shawn Pettyjohn
Relation: Very Close friend

A very dear friend, but to me more like a second Mother has been lost, but will NEVER be forgotten. She was always happy and giving, and also had me stay for my favorite dinner may times, which I could not resist. It is an honor to have known her and have so many wonderful memories. We all will miss her so much. I send my love to Yute, Gene, Dana, Val and Suzanne.

From: Linda Zeznik
Relation: Family Friend

Gene,Suzanne and all of Ruth’s family,
I am so very sorry for your loss of such a wonderful Mom and wife.
By all accounts she was so precious.Those are the kind that leave you with memories that help to heal broken hearts.You are truly in my thoughts these days Love to you, Linda

Pages: 12

Service Schedule

  Funeral Service

Date & Time:
March 2, 2013
Beginning at 4:00pm

Thompson Funeral Service Ltd.
613 Ward Street
Nelson, BC Canada V1L 1T2

613 Ward Street
Nelson, BC Canada V1L 1T2

Memorial Gifts

The family has not designated a preferred charity at this time.

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