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Nakaishi's, angels of 25th Street

Daily Herald - 9/7/2017

Editor's Note: Welcome to the Beehive Archive, a bite-sized look at some of the most pivotal, and peculiar events in Utah history. Beehive Archive is a production of Utah Humanities.

Mary Nakaishi and her husband Uke devoted their life's work to helping Ogden's poor get back on their feet and earned the reputation of Ogden's "Angels of 25th Street.

Mary was the brains and heart behind the operation. And Uke, a World War II Army veteran, supported his wife in all her charitable endeavors. They helped alcoholics, transients, and the homeless connect to social services by filling out applications for unemployment, food stamps, and Social Security.

If one of the people Mary was helping had trouble holding onto money, she would keep it and dole it out as needed. She worked closely with the Problems Anonymous Action Group, which provided housing and services to the mentally ill in Weber County.

In the 1950s, Mary and Uke operated a boarding house for older men ? mainly veterans ? to help them get off the streets. This effort evolved into the Ogden Rescue Mission that is still in business today.

From 1956 to 1982, the couple operated Uke's Café on Ogden's25th Street. They opened at 4:30 a.m. every morning to feed customers who worked strange hours at odd jobs.

The people who came into the café were viewed as part of the family. They kept running tabs and paid when they could. According to Uke, the café lost $300-$400 per month, often when a customer died.

Instead of demanding the tab be paid out, Mary and Uke would help with funeral arrangements. Unfortunately, a prominent hotel chain forced the café to close as part of a "clean up the street" campaign.

So Mary and Uke took everything that they had - stoves, tables, pots, and pans - to St. Anne's Shelter, where they transformed the fledgling soup kitchen into a modern facility, and then worked there for years.

Mary and Uke Nakaishi received countless awards for service to their community.


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