Matthew “Matt” Shibahara passed away after a long battle with terminal illness on January 30, 2024. He was 84 years old.
Matt was born in Parkdale, Oregon on February 6, 1939 to Masahiko and Yoshino Shibahara. He was the sixth of nine children. He faced adversity early in life when at age three, he and his family were forcibly moved from their home to the Tule Lake segregation center during World War II.
Yet, this adversity would not stop him from living a full life. At the age of 18, Matt enlisted in the United States Air Force and served for three years, including in South Korea. He spent several years in college at Portland State University and went on to work most of his adult life for Cascade Corporation as a Mechanical Engineer until he retired.
Matt’s accomplishments and interests extended far beyond his career. He was best known for his love of family, music, Japanese food, storytelling, and service.
In 1962, he married the love of his life, Jackie, and they moved to Portland to start their lives and family together. In 1974, they moved to Estacada and shortly thereafter Matt was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, where he remained a devout member for the rest of his days. Through the church, he served with the Boy Scouts of America, where he spent decades as a mentor and leader and eventually received the high honor of a Silver Beaver Award. As a musician and vocalist, he participated in many local choirs, performed and worked behind the scenes in musicals in Portland, and played trombone with the One More Time Around Marching Band in the Portland and Pasadena Rose Parades. For several years Matt participated in a local chapter of Toastmasters, and many High School students and community members were impacted by the stories and insights he shared in his presentations on his time in the Tule Lake segregation center during World War II.
Matt loved cooking large family meals, featuring Japanese classics like sukiyaki, his famous “Shibby” chicken, spam musubi, sunomono salad, and sushi. At any family gathering, he could be found in the kitchen hard at work preparing food for his family. Matt was also known to request rice with every dinner time meal - even pizza or Thanksgiving turkey!
Around the holidays Matt could be found juggling a very busy schedule with multiple community choirs and was known for his amazing tenor voice. He passed down his love for music to his family and the Shibahara’s found great joy in singing together over the years, even up until his final days where his daughters and grandchildren sang and played music for him.
If you knew Matt, it is very likely that you bumped into him over the years at events where he was supporting his family - whether it was recitals, concerts, theater performances, graduations, or sporting events - he would often be there. He could constantly be overheard expressing his pride in the many amazing abilities and accomplishments of his children and grandchildren - near and far. Matt loved his family above all else, and his life was devoted to them.
Matt is survived by his cherished wife, Jackie whom he showered with love and devotion for over 61 years; six of his seven children, Tamiko, Mark (wife Cathy), Angie (husband Randy) White, Bobby, Rachel (husband Michael) LaMedica, and Suzie; daughter-in-law Rochelle; 22 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and his sisters Kazi, Ella, Aki, and Judy. He was preceded in death by his beloved son, Tim; twin daughters, who passed at birth, Sariah Jane and Ruth Anna; parents Masahiko and Yoshino; and siblings, Ada, Hugo, Martha, and Micheal. The family likes to think of them all welcoming Matt with warmth and happiness, knowing he is at peace and free from pain.
His family will carry his love, legacy, stories, and the blessing of his memory in their hearts, and will always treasure the wonderful times they had with him.
A memorial service honoring his life will be held on Saturday, March 2, 2024 at 1:00 pm at the Estacada Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 30498 SE Eagle Creek Rd, Estacada, OR. Matt’s ashes will be interred with Military Honors at Willamette National Cemetery.
Condolences can be sent to:
4425 SE Oatfield Hill Rd.
Milwaukie, OR 97267