40TH Anniversary

SPNSCC’s History

Delivered by John Biewen at the 40th Annual Meeting

Forty years ago – December 7th, 1955, the late Mayor Joseph E. Dillon presided over an awe inspiring and historical ceremony in the City Council Chambers sealing the bond of Saint Paul and Nagasaki as sister cities, or as called then, a Town Affiliation. This was the first such relationship between an Asian and an American city and one that was conceived months before President Eisenhower launched his Sister City People to People program.

Tonight we would like to give a little history of the past 40 years and honored the people who led this committee – its founder, the late Louis W. Hill Jr.,who also served many years as its chair person, the committee Presidents from Steve Gadler to Chris Rossow, and the Mayors who served it from Joe Dillon on.

Representing Mr. Hill is his grandson Scott Wisdom. Mr. Hill built many bridges of understanding to Japan through culture exchanges and personal diplomacy. He developed an interested in Japan, its culture and people while he wasn’t much more than a toddler. In 1929 he made his first of many trips to Japan. Through the years he played host to countless visiting Japanese scholars and business people, provided scholarships for Japanese students, and contributed countless Japanese art works to art museums. His dream was a vehicle were people from both countries could meet and get to know and understand one another. On December 7, 1955 that dream came true.

The committee’s first President was the late Steve Gadler, and the first Mayor to preside over the committee was Joe Dillon. Representing Mr. Gadler tonight is Charter and Active Life Member Ruth Tanbara, who is also a past President and will be representing herself as well. Representing Mayor Dillon is his colleague and good friend Saint Paul attorney Terrence S. O’Toole.

Many gifts were exchanged that December 7th, including 20 flowering cherry trees from Nagasaki that were put into storage until they could be planted in the Spring. Where the trees are now is anyone’s guess. Mayor Dillon sent four bronze statuettes replicas of Carl Milles’ Peace Indian, the large rotating statue that graces the City Hall atrium, to Japan.

Bishop Paul Yamaguchi of the Nagasaki diocese was also in town that week. He had been invited to preach at the Saint Paul Cathedral, which he did the following Sunday to all masses.

Nagasaki Mayor Tsutomu Tagawa could not make the ceremony that day, but came the next year at an invitation from Mayor Dillon.

In 1960 the late George Vavoulis became Mayor. He is represented tonight by his wife, Mrs. Beverly Vavoulis. In August of that year the cruiser USS Saint Paul paid a goodwill visit to Nagasaki in honored the sister city’s affiliation.

During the 1963 Winter Carnival city and county employees let parade watchers know that Saint Paul had a sister city as their float represented Nagasaki. We tried to find a photo of the float to display tonight, but to no avail, it’s seems as lost as the cheery trees.

Thirty years ago today, on the committee’s 10th anniversary the first of several Saint Paul to Nagasaki phone calls were made between mayors and committee members. Episcopal Minister Father Andrew Otani served as interpreter for Mayors Vavoulis and Tagawa.

In 1966 Ruth Tanbara became President of the committee and Thomas Byrne Mayor of Saint Paul. Well you have met Ruth, Tom Byrne is here representing himself. You could tell Ruth was President as the Committee’s June meeting that year was held in the YWCA. Ruth has had a productive 30-year career with the ‘Y. One of her duties was to arrange exchanges between Saint Paul YWCA members and other members from throughout the world. She did such a good job she became known as “ambassador without portfolio.” When she retired six years later her co-workers created the Ruth Tanbara Japanese Garden in the lobby of the old Kellogg Boulevard YWCA.

In 1968 a very successful Japanese festival of film, exhibits and demonstrations was co-sponsored by the committee and the Saint Paul Art Center, which is now The Minnesota Musume of American Art.. An estimated 900 to 1,000 people attended.

In 1970 the late Charles P. McCarty became Mayor of Saint Paul. Representing him tonight is his wife Mrs. Margaret McCarty. Mayor McCarty would have enjoyed tonight’s meeting. He liked the Commodore, liked it so well he moved his office from downtown Saint Paul to the Commodore.

In 1971 The Rotary Club of Saint Paul sponsored a gigantic but short one month student exchange program with Japan. One hundred fifty Saint Paul students traveled to Japan and 150 Japanese students came to Saint Paul.

Lawrence D. Cohen was elected Mayor in 1972, as was James Aldridge elected President of the committee. Judge Cohen will represent himself tonight and Jill Roberts, Mr. Aldridge’s niece will represent her uncle who could not be here.

In 1974 the International Rotary Convention was held in the Twin Cities. It was there that Saint Paul Rotarian James Aldridge and Nagasaki Rotarian Dr. Mitsuji Iwanaga met. They became close friends, and established a one to one year-long student exchange between Saint Paul and Nagasaki – an exchange that is still going strong today. Mrs. Roberts’ daughter was one of those students. Later that year Jim Aldridge wrote Nagasaki Mayor Yoshitaki Moritani asking for help in laying out a Japanese garden at Como Park. In July of �75 Mikio Taneguchi, Chief of Nagasaki’ Park Section and Masame Matsuda, the President of Korankoen Gardening Company arrived in Saint Paul. Minnesotans were to see a lot of and get to know Mr. Matsuda as he has come back many times, not only to advise, but to work in the garden making it what we know today.

Chuck Evans was elected President of the committee November 20, 1975. A month later December 20, 1995 Mayor Cohen became the first Saint Paul Mayor to visit Nagasaki.

Mayor George Latimer became Mayor in 1976. His tenured in office was the longest consecutive tenured in the history of the city. Mr. Latimer could not be here tonight and requested that Dr. Anita Pampusch President of the College of Saint Catherine’s represent him. She was honored to do so. Sadly, though, her father suddenly passed away and she too, can’t be here tonight.

1979 and 1980 were important years for the committee, as was 1981. On February 27, 1979, the Ordway family donated $100,000 to the Japanese Garden to be built in Como Park. In May of the same year Dr. Iwanaga returned to Saint Paul with 26 Nagasaki Rotarians to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Rotary Student Exchange program. On September 4, 1979 the Como-Ordway Japanese Memorial Garden was dedicated.

In 1980 the committee took on for the first time the operations of the Japanese Food Booth at the Festival of Nations. The Food Booth is the committee’s biggest fund raising vehicle.

August, 1980 saw Nagasaki’s Junshin Women’s College and the College of Saint Catherine become Sister colleges. They joined a host of other companies and organizations who had formed sister relationships, including KSTP TV and the Nagasaki Broadcasting Broadcasting Company, the two Chambers of Commerce, and the Rotary clubs of the two cities.

1980 was also the 25th anniversary of the affiliation. To mark this silver anniversary Jim Aldridge arranged for a 30 foot totem pole to be carved by local Explorer Scouts and be sent to Nagasaki as a symbol of friendship between the two cities. A year later after difficulties in shipping via air and ground the Totem Pole arrived in Nagasaki. After all it was 30 feet long. It was dedicated on November 3, 1981.

As the committee aged it got better and closer. Sometimes sadness created by a lost member was deeply felt. In 1982 Evelyn Mitsch a Charter member and secretary for over 20 years passed away. Steve Gadler’s first wife also succumbed and a tree was planted in Nagasaki in her memory. When Mr. Gadler himself passed on in 1985 another tree was planted in Nagasaki.

In 1983 a tree was planted in the Como-Ordway Japanese Memorial Garden in honored of Dr. Iwanaga’s son, Tomomitsu, who died in a Japanese motor vehicle accident. Years later after Dr. Iwanaga passed on, the Iwanaga gate was placed in the garden. It was designed by Saint Paul Landscape Architect and committee board member Bill Pesek.

1985, the committee 30th anniversary year saw the election of the late Walter “Chip” Fricke as committee President. He is represented tonight by his wife Mrs. Lucy Fricke.

The tours to Nagasaki that year were well attended. Everyone had much fun and people still remember Mayor Latimer shouting , “Mottokoi! Mottokoi!” at Nagasaki’s famous Okunchi Festival.

In the summer of 1987 Mr. Hill deservingly received from the Emperor Showa the medal “Order of the Raising Sun Gold Rays with Rosette.” In 1988 Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima who had visited us many times in his tenured of office stopped by on his way to a UN Peace conference. While he was here he unveiled a Peace Pole in Minneapolis’s Lake Harriet park. That year too saw the launching of the committee’s newsletter Hochi.

In 1989 Jim Scheibel was elected Mayor. He couldn’t be here tonight and requested that Molly O’Rourke represent him. Mrs. O’Rourke was City Clerk in his administration and served with him on one of the most important project of the Sister City Committee. He was invited to Nagasaki to attend that city’s Expo 90. While there he noticed that while many nations had sculptures in Nagasaki peace Park, there was none from the United States. He vowed to do something about it. He contacted Minnesota Sculptor Paul Granlund, whose sculpture Constellation Earth graces the library mall of Saint Thomas University and asked sculptor to make another Constellation Earth for Peace Park. He organized a commeettee of city leaders and launched a fund raising campaign that brought TV stars and the Midwest premire of Akira Kurosawa’s Rhapsody in August to Saint Paul and Constellation Earth to Peace Park.

In the fall of 1990 Lynn Wolfe and Chris Rossow were elected Co-Presidents, and to help with the transition Chip Fricke said he would serve as Chair person. Lynn and Chris are both here tonight representing themselves. Due to ill health Lynn stepped down leaving the Presidency in the capable hands of Chris.

Sadly on November 29, 1991 Chip Fricke passed away. At his death his dream of bringing young blood into the committee was partly realized but he died too soon to see Constellation Earth placed in Peace Park. It was dedicated and unveiled October 10, 1992.

In 1993 Mayor Scheibel was awarded the first Walter “Chip” Fricke Award for “his initiative, dedication and follow-through leading to the first sculpture from the United States and people of Saint Paul in Nagasaki Peace Park.” Tonight Mayor Norm Coleman who is representing himself will present the third “Chip” Fricke Award to a very dear and loved long time member of the committee (Ruth Tanbara). So before we turn the program over to Mayor Coleman we will close out with 1995. It was a good year except for the passing this past Spring of Mr. Hill. We made two trips to Nagasaki, one somber in August, and one quite happy in October that had many other Minnesotans shouting “Mottokoi! Mottokoi!”

Nor can we forget the visits filled with goodwill and entertainment our Nagasaki friends made to Saint Paul. The meeting of a new Mayor, Iccho Itoh. And that Nagasaki Symphony was great. We also can’t forget to mention Global Harmony Day at Saint Kate’s on August 9th for those who couldn’t make the trek to Nagasaki. It was organized by Committee Board member Sr. Ann O’Neill.