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in memoriam: Louise Shimizu

It is with great sorrow that we have to announce that our dear friend, Louise Shimizu, passed away on Monday April 27, 2020 at her home in North Bethesda. Many of you will remember Louise as the WBFN office coordinator, where her friendly, outgoing personality endeared her to newcomers and longtime members equally. We will all remember her incredible energy, her strengh and her kindness, the endless hours she spent working on office tasks, and most of all her strong and enduring commitment to our organization.  The family is suggesting memorials take the form of contribution to the Aschiana Foundation, which supports education of vulnerable children in Afghanistan at www.aschiana-foundation.org

A message from Louise’s family: 

“A service will be held at a later date, once it is safe to gather again. We are saddened we cannot be together at this time, however, we have set up a website honoring Louise:

Click to visit The Memorial Website

We would be delighted if you could visit the site to share a memory, a story, a poem, a few words or a photo in remembrance of her.”


A  tribute to our dear friend Louise.....
 

Amy Bojang: I just heard the news about Louise ! I am so sorry !! It is a very sad news . What a lady! I will always remember her soothing voice and calmness that was always reassuring .
 
Barry McIsaac: Louise was a kind and loving person who was always ready to contribute in any way she could to whatever endeavor WBFN undertook.  She was also a strong person.  Her courage and determination in the face of her diagnosis was an inspiration to us all.  I was honored to have her as a friend and will always remember her fondly, and her family will remain in my prayers.
 
Beverly Brar: I am so sad to hear of the loss of Louise, who was a constant source of quiet support back in 2004/5 for our group of Mums who were trying to figure out how to help our struggling teenagers. She listened calmly, made suggestions and advocated on our behalf as we launched the first Teen Seminar and a course in project planning which finally evolved into the TSP. Without her support these dreams would never have got off the ground. I will never forget her kind patience and gentle smile and am so glad to have had the opportunity to work with her. May she RIP.
 
Cary Clark: I am very very sad to learn of Louise's passing. She was such a lovely lovely person, few come close to her in kindness, gentleness, hospitality, learning and just plain sweetness. We humans tend to gather at weddings, graduations, birthdays, and in these days distance funerals. I am so saddened to hear about Louise but I am most grateful to hear from you […]. In my heart are places of deep love for those, like you, who were so kind to me all those years. I can only hope that I was able to give back in some way to you and others like Louise. She was the essence of all things good. What a sweetheart she was - but also tough. She was not a pushover in anyway. Gratitude for having known her - along with tears - that's what I am feeling about her. How lucky I was to have known her and to have been at the end of her generous being. She is now one of our angels watching over us from above. Much love and many wonderful memories.
 
Cecile Ferri: I was greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Louise. It has been a privilege to work with Louise at the WBFN and benefit from her experience. I admired her energy, patience and capacity for work. I will always remember her kindness and dedication. All my condolences to her family.
 
Chantale Holzmann: Ruth Van Reken presented a Webinar at WBFN and spoke about losses. She said you must give yourself the permission to feel the pain and the sorrow, that grief has to be acknowledged, that facing it is always better than running away from it. Little did we know how soon I would need such words of wisdom. Our dear friend Louise Shimizu passed away last Monday after a long battle involving hospital treatments and surgeries. She went through all of it with great dignity, courage and at times humor Two and a half years ago, I was at a loss when she announced me her illness and the probable fatal outcome but she gently taught me how to accompany her along the way and I am grateful to her. We wrote a lot to each other and shared stories about children and grand -children. We sent each other pictures of the family, pictures of flowers, of passing seasons, of peaceful landscapes, of walks we took, everything that was making us happy and grateful for life. We had a code: each time I was visiting a church I would light a candle for her and tell her about it or even send her the picture. She called it “ buying an extended warranty ». You have all known Louise, discreet, knowledgeable, no-nonsense, a hard worker and as stubborn as required to achieve for herself or to enable another person to achieve the set goals. She wanted me to accept the thought that she might lose her battle. I wasn't ready when it happened. I am missing her . A French writer Romain Rolland once wrote, «Each of us carries deep inside a small cemetery where all the people we loved have gone» Today Louise has taken her place among the loved ones in mine.
 
Christinne Secrest: Friendly, hardworking and dedicated… Louise is one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. She will be greatly missed.
 
Clare Scrimgeour: I was so very sorry hear this news and saddened that Louise had lost her battle with cancer. Her courage in facing extensive surgery and treatment was not one she made easily. Her friends at the WBFN were all aware that she faced an uphill struggle to achieve recovery. She was also aware of the stress that her close friends and family would face on her behalf as she confronted treatment, and typically, she arranged for her niece to relay the progress of her treatment while she was in Hospital. Such a decision was an example of her concern for all of us, who wanted her desperately to succeed in her struggle against this disease. Louise was much loved by members of WBFN. Her quiet and welcoming manner gave reassurance to WBFN newcomers. She diligently attended to every detail during her time as WBFN office manager, and her kind and gentle demeanor embraced all of us.
 
Elizabeth Legrain: Louise will be missed. She was kind, gracious, hard-working, respectful, considerate, and in her polite and quiet way embodied needed strength and perseverance to support WBG families for many years as WBFN’s Coordinator. She cared deeply about families in transition, and its challenges, being a global citizen herself. The Domestic Abuse Prevention Program is appreciative of Louise’s loyal support and partnership during the years. Sincere condolences to her loving husband, three sons and their families, siblings and other loved ones. May she rest in eternal peace knowing that she touched many hearts and accomplished so much during her time with us. 
“Here's to strong women, may we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” - Unknown –
 
Elizabeth Medina-Tata: Once in a while we meet a special person ...who exudes all the good qualities that we aspire to have and, for me, this was Louise Shimizu. She had a zen-like demeanor that was calming and comforting. She was thoughtful, caring, and tenacious when taking on a task. These characteristics were evident when, in the beginning of a cold winter, a call was made to help clothe the street children of Kabul. Louise organized and secured the funding for the timely shipment of these donations, a most expensive endeavor (that did not cost WBFN a penny). These same qualities guided her when she co-wrote the book Japan Health Handbook to help expatriates navigate Japan’s health system. Louise always bought identical sets of toys; she would send one set to her grandchildren in Australia and she kept the other at home. After the toys she sent had arrived, she would Skype and have virtual playtime with her grandchildren and the toys. I will forever remember Louise for those big smiles every time she told me of those precious moments she spent with her grandchildren. I feel blessed and privileged to have met someone special like Louise. Gaiv and I extend our deepest condolences to Masaharu and the rest of the family.
 
Elna Van Greuning: It is always with sadness to learn about somebody's passing and if one has such fond memories of a person, it is even more difficult.  Louise is one of those people.  I worked closely with her in the WBFN office for at least 4 or 5 years, while I was serving on the MMMF Selection team. It came at a time when we switched to electronic applications forms and without Louise's help, it would have been an impossible task. She was such a dedicated,  friendly and helpful woman and working with her made life so much easier and pleasant.  I will treasure these memories of a woman who would always walk the extra mile without hesitance and complaint.  May you rest in peace, Louise!
 
Gertrud Bojo: It is with great sadness I learned about Louise's passing. As a volunteer with WBFN I met Louise many a time over the years. It's a unique skill to focus on the person in front of you, even when there are a thousand things going on in the surrounding, but I always felt Louise was exceptional at doing that with everyone. She mastered situations with focus, determination and great problem solving skills; brought a feeling of a productive and positive outcome to a situation or task at hand. My impression was that she never kept track of the hours she put in. Louise was the most professional, accommodating, and kind person you could ever come across. As the office manager these qualities served her and all of us very well. Thank you Louise for all that you have done over a long time, spanning many areas of interests and expertise, touching many lives from all parts of the globe. With gratitude,
 
Gilda Dadush: FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE | SAMURAI | TEACHER AND GUIDE | GREAT FRIEND | STRENGTH AND SOFTNESS | COURAGE AND DIPLOMACY | UNWAVERING LOYALTY
These were not only my own words but also the words of people Louise Shimizu touched in her many years at World Bank Family Network (WBFN). She even inspired a poem:
Ode to Louise
Always ready to please
whenever we chose to breeze
in to the office for a coffee
or a word of comfort
she’d be there at ease
sharing her people expertise
never the slightest chill or freeze.
In spite of buzzing around
as busy as can be
shed free up time 
appear as calmness sublime
ready to discuss any outlandish project 
figure how NOT to blame or shame 
listen to personal grief
deal with tantrums of temper
in the office over coffee.
Louise has been the WBFN
on whom we’ve learnt to depend 
mistress of internal politics
she made multiple processes tick 
she knew a trick or two
for making people click
in the office over coffee.
Oh Louise! Full of refinements
midwife of multiple assignments.
Go well! Happy retirement! 
Ki Harley Robert
 
Well to me Louise was all that and even more. 
I remember (and so will Masaharu) the many days when you stayed with me in the office way after the Bank had closed and often past midnight, and the companionable drive back home. You always made time in your busy schedule to listen to my frustrations and concerns and give me the right advice, helping me improve my people skills as well as my English. I’m not saying it was always perfect... it’s not easy to refuse to do something or to dismiss an idea outright and then have someone convince you that the something is not only an excellent idea, but also that it’s somehow become a joint-idea. It takes an extra special skill to do that and you have it!
But most importantly you became my friend. Many “long” girls’ lunches, lots of stories and laughs.
Three years ago you told me of Mesothelioma, your many doubts about the treatment, your mum’s decision years ago. But then you made the decision, and for the next three years fought with so much courage, showing concerns and reassuring your friends and family, you even consoled me when you told me that the end was near; you were still the stronger one, calm, organized and at peace.
My biggest regret is that of having come back to DC in the middle of Covid-19 and not being able to go see you.
I realize that I am still talking to you as if you could hear me and the truth is that I would not be able to write these few words otherwise, despite my great sadness you are still so very real to me.
Sending love and hugs to wherever you now are, rest in peace dear Louise.
 
Gisele Youmbi: My first meeting with Louise was many years ago at the office located on H street. and at the time she was WBFN Coordinator. Over the years, I had the privilege to work and interact with Louise when volunteering for WBFN and MMEG activities.  Louise was truly kind, gentle and incredibly helpful, organized and also very funny.  We all grateful for her contribution to WBFN. On a personal level, Louise holds a special place in my heart. During a difficult transition in my life, Louise offered to assist me and was always available to listen to me. I will always treasure her friendship and the many funny chats we had over the years. Louise was always so happy to share news about her grandchildren and her many visits to see them. We talked again about her grandkids when I last saw Louise. Thank you Louise. Rest in peace Louise.
 
Hada Zaidan: Louise was one of a kind: brilliant, talented, loving, helpful beyond words and yet so low key and humble!!
“Still rivers run deep” --- So was Louise!
Quiet, unflappable and always available to help beyond the call of duty. 
A solid friend, discreet and wise.
A great sense of humor with twinkling eyes.
A heart of gold that spread cheer.
A problem solver and exhaustive researcher.
Always lending a hand and filling a gap.
An eternal optimist, intent on seeing the best in people.
A solid realist, with courage that ran deep.
That is the Louise I knew,
That is the Louise I will deeply miss.
Rest in peace dear friend.
 
Ki Harley: The world is poorer without Louise. She meant a  lot to me and so many of us. When she retired I wrote this. Can’t say it better now. 
Dear Louise (please click here for the Link)
Always ready to please
whenever we chose to breeze
in to the office for a coffee 
or a word of comfort
she’d be there at ease 
sharing her people expertise 
never the slightest chill or freeze.
 
In spite of buzzing around
as busy as can be
she’d free up time 
appear as calmness sublime
ready to discuss any outlandish project 
figure how NOT to blame or shame 
listen to personal grief
deal with tantrums of temper
in the office over coffee.
 
Louise has been the WBFN
on whom we’ve learnt to depend 
mistress of internal politics
she made multiple processes tick 
she knew a trick or two
for making people click
in the office over coffee.
Oh Louise! Full of refinements
midwife of multiple assignments.
Go well! Happy retirement!
 
Lois Khairallah: Louise’s passing is so sad. She was loved by many and is dearly missed.  Her joy and compassion and her solid integrity were treasured. We trusted her. We valued her friendship. Louise and I first met at the WBFN when she was volunteering for a clothing drive for ASHIANA. Subsequently we worked together when she started as the WBFN Coordinator and I became WBFN President. It was a new beginning for us both, and I cherish the memory of our shared efforts to serve the WBG family community. Louise was unstinting in her dedication and untiring and undaunted in her efforts to fulfilling her role as Coordinator. So much more than that, she was an inspiration and pleasure to work with. Louise’s support and contributions in many forms to the MMMF (now MEG) were important to its continuing success in helping women internationally. She brought her talents to numerous projects, including development of the WBFN financial literacy program. Her life and kindness and exemplary character touched many. She provided comfort to many. Louise will be well remembered. My deepest condolences to her dear husband and sons and their families. 
 
Maaike le Grand:  Tribute to Louise Shimizu
To our great sadness we learned that Louise Shimizu passed away on April 27th. I first met her in 2006, she was then the coordinator of not only WBFN but also of the MMMF. An incredible large task, the result was that she almost disappeared behind the pile of papers on her desk. On top of that, Louise never ceased to make improvements, on spelling in texts, on the exactness of data, on paying tribute to who  had helped with what activity. If you take into account the multitude of members and activities each year you get an idea of the amount of work  on her desk. She was very precise, always thought first of the others and I often wondered where she got the energy. I soon found out: she thoroughly enjoyed  outings and events, like the Annual Picnic, or the Children's Holiday Party. And when I once joined her on a trip to her house on the lake, we had the fun of making a tour on  the lake in two of her kayaks. Biking, kayaking, cooking a delicious meal for her brother's family, and driving together for hours through Maryland, she loved it.  We finally had hours time to talk to another and get to know each other. Her house was on the border of Deep Creek Lake. Carved in the quiet mountains of western Maryland, Deep Creek Lake is an ideal place to explore nature.  Louise loved the summer days  filled with sunshine. There were boats of all kinds and sizes, Louise prefered her soft gliding kayak. She helped me correct my English texts, when I started out as editor for Mosaic, and in my other work for WBFN. She encouraged me, and I knew I could always ask her for advice when I hesitated about a wording. She greatly impressed me with her dedicated work for Nadeshiko-kai, the group of Japanese WBG spouses, when a triple disaster hit Japan. The country suffered an earthquake, followed by a tsunami and a nuclear fall-out. The spouses quickly formulated a plan to send messages of support to Japanese families. Louise together with her husband Masaharu and Gilda Dadush realized 6 beautiful posters with poems and messages of support that were sent to schools in Japan. In later years, when I had moved back to my home country I had the pleasure of meeting up with her in Amsterdam, where she visited her son. She loved our tours in the Dutch countryside, and quickly had picked her prefered meal: Indonesian rijsttafel. In her childhood she had lived in many oversees countries, and thus her openness to other cultures had an early start in her life. Then we got the terrible news of her illnesses. Once again she impressed me with the calm with which she  faced her situation, her courage, and  it was a pleasure to send her a series of cards with little happy moments in life. It was sad to receive a last message, that she was now “busy setting up Hospice”, and in the same manner it was very much Louise,  just hard working and doing what she deemed necessary.
It was a privilege to have met  her, to have worked and laughed and talked with her, she will be sorely missed. By her family, and by countless WBFN members. May her courageous spirit inspire  and console us all.
 
Marie-Yasmin Auclert: C’est avec beaucoup d'émotions et de tristesse que j'ai appris son décès, après une longue maladie à laquelle elle a fait face avec beaucoup de courage.
Je n'ai pas côtoyé Louise très longtemps, nous avions eu l’occasion de faire connaissance lors de l’exposition de photos qu’elle avait contribuée à organiser au profit de l’association Aschiana. Je garde un souvenir vivace de sa gentillesse et de son désir de toujours bien faire les choses. Non pas pour satisfaire un ego en mal de reconnaissance mais par honnêteté vis avis d'elle-même et des autres. Si ce terme n’était pas si galvaudé actuellement je dirais qu’elle était un modèle de bienveillance. Le meilleur de deux mondes, le « make the things done « américain et une part de la sagesse japonaise. Puisse ce petit mot réconforter son mari et ses enfants.
 
Mary Lee Kingsley: It would not seem in keeping with Louise's unprepossessing style to attempt embellishment on what Cary has already so authentically voiced. But I would like to offer one small but vivid vignette that, to me, encapsulates her trademark blend of underlying strength so belied by her tiny, frail appearance. And her occasional droll streak. I forget how the subject came up, but one morning, think it was, in the WBFN offices years ago, there was idle banter about the benefits of exercising. Something like that. Anyway, apparently Louise took one of the comments as a personal challenge, because the next thing we knew, she had proceeded to get down on the floor and demonstrate a series of textbook push-ups, without even breaking a sweat. (I don't believe I ever saw Louise look ruffled or discombobulated, come to think of it.) So much has transpired over the years since that I now almost wonder if I might've imagined the whole thing, it was such an oddity. But regardless, the memory makes me smile to this day. Though that is far from overtaking the sadness at her absence. If I may echo Cary's parting words, for I can think of no finer way of closing -- Much love and many wonderful memories.
 
Mimi Besha: I am so sad to hear of the loss of Louise, it was a joy to work with her and I will never forget her encouragement and the gentile smile she brought to the office each day. My thought and Prayers are with her family.
R.I.P Louise.
 
Miren Fatela: Dear Louise, I will always remember your kindness, your willingness to help, your compromise with others and your elegant discretion. It was also a pleasure to discover you once you left the office, the warmth of your inner wisdom. I'm one of the lucky ones you've left a mark on. 
 
Myra Jacobs: She was a fantastic woman. I regret we only had a relationship around WBFN - both too busy, I guess. Two years ago, I sent her a audiobook - a memoir about growing up in Japan as a foreigner that I had stumbled across. Amazingly, it turned out Louise even knew some of the people referred to in the book. At that time, she wrote her results were coming back looking really good. I am so sad she was taken too soon. So here is what I wrote for the tributes you are collecting: Louise was one of those rare individuals about whom one can truly say “no-one ever had a bad word to say about her”. But that does not come close to giving her full due. Louise was one on whom one can only heap extravagant praise – for her kindness, her gentleness, her compassion, and commitment to causes she held dear, her intelligence, and her love of family. For me, Louise was the epitome of an “eshet chayil”, a woman of valor, her value above rubies (Proverbs 31). 
I remember that Louise once told me that she wished she could have introduced me to her father, who was by then long deceased. I expect he was every bit as remarkable as his wonderful daughter. Louise was blessed with a lovely family - it is so sad that she was not given a longer time to enjoy them all. May she rest in peace.  
 
Preeti Chandramani: I had the pleasure and opportunity to work closely with Louise when I was secretary of the WBFN way back in 2004 and remember her as gentle, capable, strong. I am saddened by the news of her untimely demise and wish her family strength to bear this irreparable loss.
 
Sandipa Thapa Basnyat: It is really sad to hear the beautiful soul left for heavenly abode and May she Rest In Peace. It always brings smile on my face when I remember a soft spoken and forever ready to help lady who was there for everyone at WBFN. I had privilege to work with her and she was the first person I contacted at WBFN and because of her I’m always indebted. She was the WBFN’s encyclopedia to me for every query I had. Thank you Louise.
 
Sara Brau: Eduard and I truly grieve the loss of Louise Shimizu, a pillar of our community. She was simply kind, wonderfully understanding, diligently hard-working, ever-smiling with a humorous sparkle in her eyes. Our paths, and those of our husbands, crossed in numerous meaningful ways across our cross-cultural lifetimes. She lived the life of an intelligent, kind and helpful role model for so many in the World Bank and also the IMF family. The world is a better place for her life.
 
Shaheen Khan: Tribute to Louise Shimizu
When I first met Louise, I thought of her as an elegant woman with a charming smile and a twinkle in her eye. She seemed to be a gentle and caring person. I am sure anyone who had the pleasure of making her acquaintance would share that impression. But Louise was much more than that. She was a rare gem.
I really got to know Louise better during the most difficult time of her life – these past two years. It is often said that adversity reveals your true character and Louise demonstrated what a graceful, selfless, strong, genuine and sincere human being she was. She did not let her illness faze her.  She had many tough days but she was resilient, full of hope and retained her sense of humor. Whether it was preparing for a tea ceremony or giving English lessons, she took joy in everything she could do for as long as her time and strength permitted. On our long weekly walks together, we discussed books (she loved Tara Westover’s “Educated”); we hoped to visit gardens together (Chanticleer Gardens in particular); we shared favorite recipes (Minted Sweet Pea and Spinach Soup from the Silver Palate was a common favorite); exchanged updates on our health (including all the aches and pains that come with cancer treatment) and encouraged one another to take care of ourselves. 
Louise was a selfless woman who always thought of others and how she could help them. While going through her treatment at the National Institute of Health, she was happy that she was contributing to cancer research and that others would benefit from it in the future, even if she could not be cured.  
She loved her family and would take great pride in talking about her grandchildren. She adored them and it was fascinating to hear how close she was to them even though they lived thousands of miles apart.  I recall at one of her medical appointments, when the doctors informed her that she would need to undergo surgery and treatment, her immediate response was to calculate the treatment and recovery period. She wanted to ensure that would be in good shape when her family visited her in the following weeks over the Christmas holidays. 
Louise was a beautiful person inside and out. She leaves behind wonderful memories for her family and numerous friends. She will continue to live in our hearts.  May her soul rest in eternal peace. 
 
Tania Gnesdilova: Dear Louise was my boss for 8 years. She was very supportive, attentive to details and a wise manager. We connected in a personal level even though we were a very unlikely match: a Russian and an American but both married to a foreigner. I have leant a lot from Louise and feel privileged to have known her. Thank you Louise, I will think about you often.
 
Vidya Rangan: Louise was really one of a kind. I met her in WBFN and I got the opportunity to work closely with her on Mosaic. It was both an honor and a privilege to work with her. She used to patiently teach me how to work on Mosaic. She would meticulously point out mistakes that I sometimes overlooked while editing articles for Mosaic. She was very detail oriented and would always make sure that no mistakes were made when we sent Mosaic for printing. I have never seen her get flustered, angry, irritated or grumpy. She had an aura of zen around her and she would pass that on to all who worked with her. She never taught by reprimanding, she always taught by encouraging. She was a great teacher and an awesome colleague. She often accompanied us to lunches and she would always have interesting stories to narrate, talk about people she met, tell us about her travel, show us pictures of her family and grandchildren. She was very fond of, proud of and loving of her family. She was extremely kind and never said a harsh word to anyone. It is hard to come by women of her humility, kindness, grit, intellect, thoroughness and calm demeanor these days. She was truly one of a kind and I am very happy that I got to work with her in WBFN. I will always carry happy memories of her with me. 
 

Vim Maguire: There are so many warm and positive memories of the years when Louise and I collaborated in planning and implementing programs for the World Bank spouses and family members. Characteristics that come to mind include professionalism, efficiency, dependability and tremendous love of the organization. We worked together on programs and events for the WBFN, later on the MMMF Board and later Aschiana. She helped me with many activities, always with a smile. Louise could be relied upon to solve difficult administrative problems and to give wise council. I join all those who offer tributes to her life and contributions to our positive experiences over the years. 


 

Photos contributed by Gilda Dadush