Last week we enjoyed a special program - a 100th birthday celebration for long term RCFC member, John Matsushima. The program had 2 parts - first a proclamation by Mayor Wade Troxell declaring Johnny’s birthday, December 24, as John “Johnny” Matsushima Day!  This  was followed by a video of a recent interview by one of FCRC’s  youngest members, Janis Roeder. Following the video, Johnny answered some questions from members.  Photo: CSU Scoreboard
Mayor Troxell cited Johnny’s Colorado roots, his long term interest in cattle nutrition and his academic accomplishments.  Also mentioned was Johnny’s 51 year Rotary membership, his perfect attendance record and his visits to Rotary clubs in 52 state and 23 countries.
Tanis captured the personal life and essence of this man as she shared a recent 20 minute interview in Johnny’s backyard.  We learned of his Colorado roots - born in Lafayette, raised in Platteville by poor Japanese-American parents (no indoor plumbing, cold water for washing and sometimes not enough to eat).  When Johnny started school he spoke no English! His teacher was unable to pronounce his Japanese name (Ki Ishiro) so that’s how he became “Johnny”.
His grandfather emigrated from Japan in 1890.  Johnny was the oldest of 7 children. He worked on the family cattle farm and developed an early interest in the feeding of their beef  cattle.  His favorite class in high school was animal husbandry and he was a member of 4H, becoming a 4H champion. There wasn’t much time for play on the farm but he did mention “ice skating” on the farm pond (without ice skates)!
Johnny’s first wife was  his high school sweetheart. They had one son but she died of cancer as a young woman. He met his second wife, Dorothy, at CSU.
Johnny has extensively travelled and collected 135 Rotary banners.  He still receives letters from many of the friends he made.
When asked what was the essence of your teaching, he responded “Water plus food=life. Good water plus good food=good life.
Of course, the ultimate question of any centenarian is ”What’s the secret to a long life?”  Johnny gave three: 1) follow a routine,  2) go to bed early and arise early and 3) good friends.  The next question - what are your greatest accomplishments was met with his typical modesty - he was just “proud” to be able to travel and share what he knew.
The next question was what was the impact of Rotary?  - the essence of his response -  if you treat people well you will be treated thusly.  He said he misses those Rotarians who are no longer with us and expressed something we all may feel – the loss of not meeting in person.
The last question- “What’s your advice for a full life – The answer - “smile”.  Who can improve on that? When you are older, wiser and so accomplished, the answer to life’s questions aren’t that complicated.