My Sister Dorothy

Posted in Family and Friends at 11:00 am by admin


Dorothy and Joe with Roberta, Raymond and Rikki

Dorothy and Joe with Roberta, Raymond and Rikki

On Sunday, August 9, 2009, Dorothy passed away in the intensive care unit in Walnut Creek, CA Kaiser Hospital after a long struggle with congestive heart failure. I spent the afternoon with her, three days before she died.  I held her hand, watched her struggle with every breath, we talked about my book, laughed a few times, as she never lost her sense of humor and I kissed her good bye I told her I loved her and she said, “I love you Sis.”

Carmen and Marlene with Michel and Tara

Carmen and Marlene with Michael and Tara

One of the most often asked questions from readers of Divine Betrayal is “What happened to your sister, what kind of a life did she have?”  I will do my best to summarize what I believe to be an extraordinary dedicated life with a mission, “To help others in her community in the most effective way.”

For the past 30 years, every time I spoke to Dorothy she was animated, excited, and full of life and her main topic was her community; all that needed to be done and how she was going about getting things accomplished. She was a fighter and if she saw something that needed to be done, it became her passion and she would not rest a minute until she saw the project completed.

The information for this blog comes from an editorial in the Martinez News-Gazette, on September 13-14, 2008, written by Stan Caldwell and titled, ”A Tribute to Dorothy Sakazaki.”

Mr. Caldwell wrote a beautiful tribute to my sister and at the end he summarized her accomplishments as follows:

Dorothy has provided the Contra Costa County Community Development Department the benefit of her guidance, contributions, and time.  She was instrumental in accomplishing the following with Community Development Block Grants (CDBG):

. Alternate Access to Landfill 1979 ($150,000) CDBG

. Safety Paths for Schools (Las Juntas and Morello) 1980 ($299,000) CDBG

. Reconstruction of Arthur Rd. 1982 ($310,000) CDBG – widen roadway, install storm drains and sidewalks. Landfill trucks re-routed via Waterbird Way.

. Center Ave Reconstruction Project 1987 ($53,000) CDBG

. Contra Costa County Supervisor Gayle Uikema says. ”Dorothy has always been a community advocate for Mt. View Sanitary.  She is dedicated, diligent anddevoted in her quest for good public service.  She is a true representative of working to ensure good government of the highest standards.”Dorothy was elected to the Mr. View Sanitary District board of directors on November 6, 1979 becoming the first woman elected to serve on the board. She has served on the board for the past 28 years.  The growth and accomplishments of the district during her tenure in office stand as a testament to her loyalty, dedication and service.

The MVSD has received numerous awards from governments and professional  associations for achievement in plant operation, pollution prevention and  environmental education during Dorothy’s tenure.  She was also instrumental in helping to provide the first permanent Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility. Dorothy has been involved in many other public programs benefiting the Mt. View, Vine Hill, and unincorporated areas of Martinez.  She was unofficially known as the “Mayor of Vine Hill.”

I could go on and on, listing her contributions to her city and neighborhood, but I feel enough has been written. One of the many things she was very proud of was the Interpretive Center Program, In-Class Education Program in the schools and on one of my visits she made a point of showing me the schools where this program took place.  The last time I visited Dorothy in her home, she proudly showed me a street a few blocks from her house named “Dorothy.” She lived an unselfish, giving life.  I’m sure my parents, even our Mother, would have been proud of her.  I certainly am. 

Dorothy had four children.  Marlene, who I mention in Divine Betrayal, lives in Michigan and was raised by her father.  She is married to Carmen Gandolfo and they have two children.  Dorothy has a son and daughter who live in California, Raymond and Roberta Guetschow.  In 1958 Dorothy married Joe Sakazaki, a Japanese American who was the love of her life.  They soon bought a home in Martinez, California with a large yard and room for Joe to plant flowers, vegetables, and numerous fruit trees for the family to enjoy.  Joe helped raise Dorothy’s two children and Dorothy and Joe had a son Rikki Sakazaki who now lives in Tracy, CA. Joe was always supportive of Dorothy’s community service and like the rest of us, very proud of her accomplishments.  Dorothy will surely be missed.



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