Beloved wife, mother, author, musician, teacher, Lutheran missionary in Japan
Eloise Dale, a 25-year-old resident of Pilgrim Place in Claremont who spent 45 of her 96 years in Japan, died on October 5.
Born in Oakley, Kansas, Eloise graduated from Oakley High School in 1942. She entered Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas that same year, graduating magna cum laude in 1946 with degrees in music education and piano. At Bethany, she was a member of several organizations, including Sigma Alpha Iota, a music fraternity for women, and the Beta Tau Sigma school society.
From 1947 to 1949, she studied pipe organ at the University of Minnesota and worked as a radio organist and secretary for the Lutheran Bible Institute radio show, “Psalm of Life.”
In 1949, she married Bethany’s classmate Kenneth Dale in Minneapolis, then went to work at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, while her husband was a student there. The couple responded to a call to serve the Lutheran Church in Japan “to venture into immediate post-war Japan, and in 1951 this little sunflower was transplanted across the Pacific,” said his husband Kenneth.
From 1952 to 1960 they lived in Ube and founded a church there. Their two sons, Gregory and Ted, were both born while living in Ube.
From 1962 to 1964, she studied organ and other subjects at the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary in New York, while her husband continued his studies there.
The family returned to Japan in 1962, called to serve at the Lutheran Seminary in Tokyo. There, she began to teach the piano and organ to children, a job she held for 33 years. She also performed for daily church services during this time and was a regular organist at the International Lutheran Church in Tokyo from 1966 until she left Japan in 1996.
“In Japan, she flourished in three areas in particular: music, cooking and flower arrangement (ikebana),” her husband Kenneth said. “She published a little book on how to bake cookies, and that book hit the market at a hot spot and sold over 150,000 copies.”
In 1975 and 1976, she studied pipe organ and took courses at Gustavus Adolphus College, in St. Peter, Minnesota. From 1980 to 1981, she continued to study pipe organ and did master’s class work at Concordia College in River Forest, Illinois.
While in Japan, she was asked to write various articles for the Japanese women’s magazine Fujin no Tomo (Women’s Companion). She has also written three cookery books published in Japanese and a book about her 45 years of living in Japan, Himawari Musume, which literally means “Sunflower Girl”. It has been published in Japanese and English. “For many in Japan, she has become ‘The Little Kansas Sunflower Girl,'” her husband recalls. She also taught cooking classes for Japanese women, gave organ concerts in various churches in Japan, including a performance at the celebration of the centenary of the Lutheran Church of Japan in 1993.
She loved Japan and Japanese culture, taking classes in Japanese arts including cha-no-yu (tea ceremony), ikebana (flower arrangement), okoto (a classical 53-string instrument), and odori (Japanese dance) . She attended many Japanese church activities for women and held positions in the National Fujinkai (Lutheran Society of Women).
“Well, she loved Japan so much that when it came time to retire in 1996, people said, ‘Was it difficult for you to live in Japan for 45 years? And she was like, ‘Oh no! I love Japan and want to stay here! ‘ Her husband remembers. “You have to be careful when transplanting a sunflower!
Her last Japanese concert, a farewell performance, was in 1996. She and Kenneth retired that year, moving directly from Tokyo to Pilgrim Place, where the couple continued to live until her death.
“By moving to Pilgrim Place, she blossomed again, as health and age permitted,” her husband said. “She has devoted a great deal of time and energy preparing for several pipe organ concerts on the magnificent Glatter-Götz pipe organ of the United Church of Christ of Claremont. For many pilgrims from a few years ago, she has become the “flower girl” again, providing three or four Japanese flower arrangements per month for the health center and chairing the flower committee for many years.
“On his behalf, I want to thank all of you who have supported us in so many, many ways over the past 25 years at Pilgrim Place. Thank God for his life!
Memorial gifts in her name can be made to Inland Valley Hope Partners at https://www.inlandvalleyhopepartners.org, click “donate online” or by check to Inland Valley Hope Partners 1753 N. Park Ave ., Pomona, CA 91768.