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1928 Yoneko 2023

Yoneko Naito Bitler

June 23, 1928 — May 6, 2023

Yoneko Naito Bitler peacefully passed away on May 6, 2023 at The Bellingham at Orchard Memory Care facility. She was 94 years old.

Yoneko was the eldest of four children, born in Japan on June 23, 1928. Her father was killed in World War II when she was only 17 years old. She received a scholarship to continue her education but felt obligated to go to work instead to support her mother and two younger sisters. She worked for the Japanese government in an administrative role for over 13 years and was highly regarded for her skills and professionalism.

Yoneko met the love of her life, Bruce Bitler, in her office when he was on official business serving as a financial consultant to Japan. Their fondness for each other turned into a romantic courtship that endured over 12 years. Yoneko corresponded with Bruce, waiting for his promise to marry her after his youngest daughter turned 18.

After Yoneko and Bruce’s marriage, they made their home in Bellingham to be near WWU. They often entertained friends with formal dinners. Yoneko was an excellent cook, seamstress, artist, and gardener. She always dressed elegantly and loved all the social events she and Bruce attended. They belonged to the Elks Club, the Bellingham Yacht Club, Bellingham Senior Center. They both loved traveling all over the world.

Yoneko and Bruce moved into James Street Estates in 1991, where she resided for 29 years. She had many friends. Yoneko’s dementia caused her to be feisty and un-trusting of everyone. Eventually she became more gracious and thankful to everyone she met. Her caregivers lamented how much they are going to miss this small lady with such a sweet demeanor.

Yoneko is predeceased by her husband, Bruce; brother, Tadao Naito; and both of her parents. She had no children.

Yoneko requested no memorial service. She will be placed at Bayview Cemetery next to her beloved husband, Bruce.
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