Stephen Hiroshi Miyagawa

Deceased: November 16, 2007

Service Information:

Visitation: Wednesday, November 28, 2007 1 pm until time of service at 7:30 pm


Stephen Hiroshi Miyagawa, 78 of Chicago, IL, died Nov 16, 2007. Born Feb 3, 1929 on Maui to the late Koichi and Sumiko Miyagawa. Blinded in the Korean War, proud member of the 5th Regimental Combat Team Korean War Veterans and the Military Order of the Purple Heart, former longtime resident of Hyde Park, graduate of Roosevelt College, 32 yr employee of Edgewater Hospital, tireless advocate for Hines VA Hospital Blind Center, editor of the three newsletters; the Hines Blind Center Alumni News Flash (1979-83), the Illinois Blinded Veterans Association Voice (1983-1986) and the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center Torch (1986-1996) and author of "Journey to Excellence". Beloved husband of the late Wanda M.; devoted father of Stephen-Alan (Peggy) and Dawna-Jeri Miyagawa; dear brother of Randy (Martha) Miyagawa, Jane (Richard) Yoshizumi, Betty (Clarence) Fukushima and the late Matsue (Kenneth) Uyehara, Tommy (Sally) and Sueo Miyagawa; adoring grandfather of Terri (Justin) Stiper and great-grandfather of Liam and the late Garrett Stiper; cherished by many special nieces and nephews, special in-laws and dear friends. He was an exceptional human being that was an inspiration to everyone and gave his all to every aspect of his life up to the end. In lieu of monetary gifts and flowers, donations to the Blind Service Association (17 N State St, Suite 1050, Chicago, IL, 60602-3510) would greatly be appreciated. Visitation Wed Nov 28 1 pm until time of service 7:30 pm at Lakeview Funeral Home, 1458 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL, 773-472-6300;


November 28, 2007 Tribune
As a young man in Honolulu, Stephen Hiroshi Miyagawa believed his vocation would be as a printer, reproducing the words of others.

But a mortar shell ended that career during the Korean War and blinded him for life. However, it opened a door to a writing talent he didn't know he had, his family said, and Mr. Miyagawa went on to write his own words on the plight, trials and rehabilitation efforts of other blind veterans.

Mr. Miyagawa, 78, of Chicago, editor for several newsletters and author of "Journey to Excellence," died Friday, Nov. 16, of complications of heart surgery in Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Shortly after he was wounded, Mr. Miyagawa's journey into his new life began at the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center at Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital near Maywood, where he was admitted in 1952.

"He was sent to orientation and mobility training basically to allow him to function as a blind person," said his son, Stephen. "And then from there they were the ones who convinced him to go to college."

By 1957, Mr. Miyagawa graduated from Roosevelt College, now Roosevelt University, with a degree in sociology. But with sources of income limited because of his blindness, he became a darkroom technician, developing X-ray film at Edgewater Hospital in Chicago, his son said.

For more than 30 years, Mr. Miyagawa remained at the hospital, where he also served as corresponding secretary for the radiology school, trained X-ray technicians and handled admissions to the program. He also taught darkroom techniques.

"Obviously it wasn't his first choice but he adapted basically. That was what he did to make money. But he remained close to the blind center at Hines and devoted a large part of his life to it," said his son.

Mr. Miyagawa was a founding member of the center's alumni association and helped write the group's bylaws. He went on to become editor of the Hines Blind Center Alumni News Flash from 1979 to 1983 and the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center Torch from 1986 to 1996.

"His contribution to the center was profound," said J.J. Whitehead, retired director of the center.

Mr. Miyagawa also wrote biographical salutes to employees, other blind veterans and leaders in the field of blindness.

"For many of us we knew these people but Steve would find things we didn't know. He was tenacious. I used to call him 'Bulldog.' He was meticulous for accuracy and to get all the facts," Whitehead said.

Mr. Miyagawa also was an active member of the Illinois Blinded Veterans Association and worked as the editor of their publication, the Voice, from 1983 to 1986.

That year he started work on his book "Journey to Excellence: Development of the Military and VA Blind Rehabilitation Programs in the 20th Century," published by Galde Press in 1999.

"It probably is the most authoritative accounting of this era that is in one book. It could be used as reference; it is that detailed," Whitehead said.

He also took on causes related to blind veterans and worked with the Blinded American Veterans Foundation in Washington.

"Stephen has always been an advocate for his fellow veterans' especially blinded vets," said John Fales, a columnist with the Washington Times who writes the Sgt. Shaft column and is founder of the Blinded American Veterans Foundation. "He became a pen pal to my column. He would right a letter to my column and I would respond. It made members of Congress take notice."

Mr. Miyagawa was born on Puunene, Maui, but the family moved to Honolulu when he was young. After the war, he settled in Chicago and married in 1955. He retired in 1988, the same year his wife, Wanda, died.

Pieces of his writings are housed in the archives of the American Printing House for the Blind, his son said.

Besides his son, survivors include a daughter, Dawna-Jeri; two sisters, Jane Yoshizumi and Betty Fukushima; a brother, Randy; a granddaughter; and a great-grandson.

Visitation will begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday, with services at 7:30 p.m., in Lakeview Funeral Home, 1458 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago.

Miyagawa Family:

I have known Steve for 47 years. I went to school with Steve being my teacher and as time went on he taught me about life. I really am so sorry in the passing of this great man and I already miss talking to him as I did all my life I knew him. It was a regular thing that we spoke every Sunday. He was like my second father. He was always there to guide me through lifes passages. I feel so empty now with him being the best friend a person could ever know and to have lost him. He is and can never be replaced in the spot I hold for him in my heart and alway will.

It`s hard to know just what to say as this sad time but even though no words can truly comfort you, perhaps they can, in some small way, express the depth of care and concern that`s felt for you now, sympathy..........
Respectfully Yours,
Donald L. Wolverton