Life With Lily

The single greatest blessing in all of my life is my most amazing and treasured wife Lily!



Hiromichi as a teacher in Hachijo.

The Hoshino’s are a Japanese-American family. Lily’s father, Hiromichi Hoshino, though born in the US, grew up on an island in Japan.  His family has lived on Hachijo Island for a very long time. In fact, his father was the first to bring electricity to the island.  Young Hiromichi was a teacher for years in Hachijo.  When Hiromichi was in his mid-twenties he moved to Washington State and started attending college.  About a year after moving to the U.S., the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and within a week Hiromichi was detained to be put into an internment camp. While waiting to be sent to a camp, a professor he knew from college recruited him to teach Japanese to American Naval Officers in Boulder, Colorado. 


Mitsuye at age 10

Mitsuye Tokotomi, Lily’s mom, grew up in the Central California Valley until she was ten years old.  He father died and her mother had to work in the fields all day to make enough money to support her thee children.  So, her mother sent Mitsuye and her two brothers to live with relatives in Saga, Japan.  While there, young Mitsuye basically became the mother to her two brothers, as well as doing many tasks for her aunt and uncle.  When she was 18 years old her mother was able to bring her children back to the US (one brother stayed behind for a bit longer).  A year after moving back to the US, Pearl Harbor happened and within a week she and her mother were put into the Santa Anita Race Track while awaiting to be relocated to a quickly built internment camp at Heart Mountain in Wyoming.


Hiromichi & Mitsuye Wedding Photo 1944

After a couple of years in the internment camp, Mitsuye had an opportunity to move with the dentist she was assisting. She ended up in Boulder, Colorado and there she met Hiromichi and they were married in 1945. In all of the years that I have known Lily’s parents, I have never heard them say anything bad about being put into the camps.  They only see the positive in it. Mitsuye was with her mother she had missed for so many years.  Mitsuye’s mother said it was like a vacation. She did not have to work hard from sunup to sundown, instead she was able to learn English, to knit, play music, etc.  They found the positive in all of it.


Lily when she lived in Japan for a year

Mitsuye and Hiromichi had two boys soon after they were married.  Their last child was a girl born near Easter, so they named her Lily.  Not the easiest name for some of her Japanese relatives to say. Lily was able to keep up with her brothers pretty well.  She loved to watch her father cut and polish rocks. Her father used to drive her to piano recitals and baton twirling contests.  Lily’s mom speaks of how competitive her daughter is.  She says in Lily’s first baton twirling contest she got second place.  She did not like that and every single contest after that she always got first place. She soon learned to sew and made most of her own clothes. Her parents worked for years to bring over family from Japan. So for years the Hoshino family, in a very small house, had to share rooms with cousins, aunts, and uncles. The Hoshino’s put everything into their family.  They would have big gatherings for years and make many of the traditional Japanese foods.

Lily and cousin Yuki in her early 20s

Though she was good in school, Lily never really applied herself to it.  Her family did not make it a big value for her.  After high school Lily lived in Hawaii for awhile. Kind of her hippy days living with  a bunch of people in a small cottage on the Big Island and working odd jobs. Eventually she moved back to the Bay Area in California, near her family. Though her father taught Japanese to Naval officers, he did not do the same with his children.  Her parents worried about their children speaking Japanese after the war.  Her family wanted her to learn more about japan and made arrangements for her to live out there for a year when she was in her early twenties.  



Lily with young Sam & Greg

Later Lily got a job in the Silicon Valley as a layout designer of integrated circuit boards.  She excelled at her job,  Soon after that she met her first husband.  They married, had two boys, and as a young family, moved to the more affordable life in Carson City, Nevada. They both wanted their boys to go to college, so they started a college fund for the boys when they were very young. Lily became a stay-at-home mom of the best sort.  She helped the boys imaginations grow as they would play in the yard or park or library day in and day out.  They dreamed of being train engineers and loved to hike and find arrowheads and cool rocks (interesting because they both became geological engineers for their bachelor’s degrees).  The marriage lasted for twenty years, but it did not bring out the best in either of them. With her two boys in middle school, Lily became a single mom.


Lily was the kind of mom all of the kids liked.  Her two sons Sam and Greg were 16 months apart.  The three of them did a lot of things together. as the boys made friends, they all played at Sam and Greg’s place. Though Lily was making very little money as a teaching aide in the elementary school,  she managed to always have enough food for the boys and all of their friends.

interesting side note:
In later years, when Lily was dealing with breast cancer, many of those boys wrote her some very moving letters about how much they think of her, are grateful for the influence she is still in their lives, and how much they love her!

She got the boys snowboards and opened up a whole new world for them.  Eventually Lily would be the one to give first time lessons to Sam and Greg’s friends. Lily is still the best mom and her boys, like her, give their best in life. They are very adventurous, thoughtful, and very genuine.

They both make friends easily, from all walks of life.  They are not pretentious, but rather they are very generous.  They are very smart, and even more so, love to experience life – much like their mother.  While in college, Sam rode his bike across the country, and half way back.  Before starting his masters, Greg walked the Southern portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. In college Sam did a study abroad program in Costa Rica. Greg did his study abroad program in Norway.  They both have masters degrees in engineering. Sam is a civil engineer in Alaska (he got his masters from Berkeley). Greg is an engineer with the Nevada Department of Transportation (he got his masters from the University in Oslo, Norway). Lily is the proudest and most loving mother I’ve ever known. Her boys are there for her and constantly show their love for her and all that she has done for them.


So, I jumped the timeline a bit.  While they were in 7th and 8th grade, Lily got a new job as a librarian assistant at the high school.  This way she could see what the high school was like, and be there when her boys made the transition.  Personally, I think that was the best decision, because that is when we met!

She loved working at the high school library as a librarian assistant.  She was remarkable with the students found a lot of students who really enjoyed her help and insights.  After about five years in the high school library, she took an opportunity to work at the district office in the Human Resources Department.  She helped new and current employees navigate the bureaucracy more easily.  A few years later they gave her the additional responsibility of helping the Health and Safety Director for the district.  After five years in the district office, she found herself really missing the students.  An opportunity to get her old job as a library assistant for the high school became available, but this time it had the extra responsibility of coordinating the school-wide senior projects.  Senior project is a mandate for graduation and every senior does them throughout the year.  They then present their research paper and proof of their project to the panel of community judges and teachers.   Lily would coordinate 3 to 5 community members and one teacher to be on every panel (a panel is four to five seniors presenting at a time – usually about an hour long for all four or five).  She had to do this for about 450 students. It was similar to coordinating multiple weddings all to go off seamlessly in a matter of hours in one day.  Lily did this perfectly for five years, then she missed a lot of work due to her battle with cancer.  She retired in the middle of recovering from cancer.  she needs time to heal completely and needs less stress in order to heal well.  So, retirement seemed the best option.