Miyo Onishi (née Kuwashima) passed away in Canton on March 29, 2021, eleven days after her 95th birthday. Miyo was born in Chicago to Marie (Matsuo) and T. Shozo Kuwashima who was instrumental in establishing the martial art of Jiu Jitsu in the United States. She, together with her brother and mother, survived the desperate years of the Great Depression, finally settling in New York City in the late 1930s. Not long after the US entry into World War II, she married Massey Onishi. She joined the USO and traveled with him to the various US Army boot camps in the south until his unit deployed to Europe as part of the 442nd, an all-Japanese regiment. After the war, they settled in Canton where they raised two children, Linda Dunn of Stoughton and Steven Onishi of Groton. Massey passed away in 1997.
After the war, Miyo rekindled her passion for art. Largely self-taught, she continued to develop her work in oil painting. She was a longtime member and past president and scholarship chair of the Canton Art Association. Along with exhibitions at the CAA, Miyo exhibited her work at The Copley Society of Boston where she was bestowed the honor of Copley Master. Additionally, she exhibited and won juried events at the North Shore Art Association, and many other art associations and galleries on Boston’s South Shore. Miyo taught oil painting through adult education classes at various venues, weekend workshops in the White Mountains and Kennebunkport, Maine, as well as at her home studio in Canton.
Miyo’s art was often inspired by the imperfect and wild beauty of nature and the interplay of light and shadow. Some of her favorite subjects were old barns, dune fences, and the abstract shapes and shadows created by snow and ice. Her work has been published on the cover of Down East Magazine, American Greetings holiday cards, and Dick Blick art supply catalogues. An animal lover all of her life, Miyo had many canine companions, including beagles Penny, Sary, Maxi, and Jenny. Her portraits of them are among some of the family’s priceless possessions.
Miyo was devoted to her faith. She was a parishioner of Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church of Canton where she served as a Eucharistic Minister.
In addition to Linda and her husband Greg and Steven and his wife Dawn, Miyo is survived by five grandchildren Lauren Holtzman, Gregory Dunn, Jillian, Amelia, and Thomas Onishi and two great grandchildren Gabrielle and Samantha Holtzman.
A Memorial Mass will be held on April 10th at 10 AM at Saint John the Evangelist Church in Canton. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Beagles to the Rescue (https://beaglestotherescue.org) or an animal charity of your choice.