Beloved San Francisco Bakery Owner Dies Of COVID-19

Hatsy Yasukochi and her husband, Moses, opened the Yasukochi Sweet Stop in 1974.

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Hatsy Yasukochi was a woman who possessed a special set of skills. Among them, the ability to overcome whatever challenge life handed her ... and to always do it with a smile.

"That's my mom," said Yasukochi's daughter, Wendy Prigge. "That's how people described her my entire life: 'Your mom is the sweetest. She's the sweetest person.'"

Like many Japanese-Americans of her generation, Yasukochi spent part of her childhood imprisoned along with her family in an internment camp during World War II. Still, her daughter Stacey Nolan said, by the time Yasukochi was attending high school in the East Bay, she was flourishing.

"She was quite active in school," Nolan said. "She was in the school play, she participated in sports."

After attending San Francisco State University, Hatsy married Moses Yasukochi. In 1974 the two opened Yasukochi's Sweet Stop, a bakery in San Francisco's Japantown. The shop became famous for it's Coffee Crunch Cake and Yasukochi was there to greet every customer.

"The smile of the bakery," Nolan said. "She was always the one who greeted the customers. She knew a lot of the customers by name."

Even while battling lung cancer for the past year, Yasukochi still showed up for work at the bakery.

"What I admire most about her is her strength and her courage, especially during the last period of her life," Nolan said

What her daughters believe is that the bakery, for Yasukochi, was much more than a place to make money. It was her and her husbands way of giving to those they cared the most about.

"The bakery was their way of doing that," Prigge said. "That allowed them to give to us. It allowed them to give to the community, to be part of the greater good."

The bakery has been closed since the shelter at home orders were first issued but it is scheduled to re-open May 21st under the leadership of one of Yasukochi's grandchildren.

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