Director, International Leaders Program
For well over 20 years, I have been exchanging holiday cards with Mr. Iwao Koshimae and his wife, Mie. This year, instead of a card with a photo or humorous caricature of the Koshimaes, I received a letter from their son, Mr. Ryuya Koshimae, informing his father’s friends that his father had passed away in late May 2013.
|Gail Shrott during a 1989 dinner with|
Iwae Koshimae of Japan (right)
and Dennis Unkovic of Pittsburgh.
Anticipation mounted throughout the summer as we waited to receive a list of participants from Mr. Koshimae and a note expressing how much he and the group were looking forward to their trip. On the group’s first day in Pittsburgh, Mr. Koshimae would enjoy a golf game with PCIV’s Board Chair, Attorney Dennis Unkovic.
On that first night that the group arrived in Pittsburgh, Mr. Koshimae would host PCIV staff members and Dennis Unkovic and our spouses for an elegant dinner in what had been Christopher’s Restaurant atop Mt. Washington. Mr. Koshimae would present his Pittsburgh friends with memorable gifts at that dinner, and we, in turn, would present Mr. Koshimae with a "Pittsburgh" gift of sports memorabilia and a trophy for the golf game earlier that day.
|One of the Christmas cards sent|
by Mr. Koshimae to Gail Shrott
A highlight of the program for the participants was an evening of home hospitality with PCIV host families. PCIV’s Executive Director, Marion Hook, as the senior member of our staff, would host Mr. Koshimae for dinner at her home.
Following this highly successful model, Mr. Koshimae brought groups to Pittsburgh for over 20 years, ending in the mid 1990s. Mr. Koshimae and his groups were missed long after the exchange ended following his retirement. I discovered that a number of our hosts and former staff members continued to exchange holiday cards, as I had done, for decades.
I expect that we all have warm memories of Mr. Koshimae’s smile and his sincere joy at being back in our city, year after year. I feel so very fortunate to have been able to call Mr. Koshimae a friend.