Dorothy Kikue Redlinger
December 18, 1927 - August 7, 2020
Dorothy Kikue Redlinger died peacefully at home on August 7, 2020
from congestive heart failure. Kikue Otani was born in the Mejiro
district of Tokyo, Japan, as the fourth of six siblings (four
girls, two boys). Her father, a dentist, and her mother believed
strongly in the importance of educating their children, especially
their girls, a not-so-common practice at the time. Her idyllic
childhood was cut short when, just shy of her 14th birthday, Japan
entered World War II. She was evacuated to the northern
countryside of Yamagata prefecture towards the end of the war when
increasingly frequent Allied bombing rendered Tokyo too dangerous.
This was the only time in the first half-century of her life that
she lived outside of Tokyo.
She revealed few details of her wartime suffering, but the evil of
war became a theme that would play a prominent role throughout the
rest of her life. And postwar famine led her to eternal gratitude
for food and an abhorrence of waste that she passed diligently on
to her children and grandchildren.
Soon after the end of the war, Kikue met a fortune teller who
foretold that it was her destiny to ultimately leave Japan, a
seemingly highly unlikely event at the time, and he implored her
to “remember my words when you eventually leave.” Indeed, Kikue
was intrigued by Western culture and enchanted by European
classical music. She had studied English in middle and high
school, an increasingly rare occurrence as English became labelled
the “enemy” language. After the war she enrolled briefly in the
English department at Japan Women’s University and at an English
conversation school. But the main source of her English
instruction was WVTR, an American forces radio station, to which
she listened obsessively at every spare moment.
Thus, when the Japanese Foreign Ministry, seeking prospective
staff, offered English language exams, Kikue threw her hat in the
ring and, to her surprise, passed the test. Thereby began her
career working for the Foreign Ministry with the occupying US
forces in postwar Tokyo.
In 1950, she answered an ad for English speaking staff from a
company called International Textiles Incorporated. There she met
Oswald Redlinger from Vienna, Austria. Oswald had survived the
war as a refugee in Shanghai and subsequently moved to Tokyo
together with fellow European refugees to found a textile import
firm after the communist takeover and subsequent expulsion of
foreigners from China in 1950.
Kikue and Oswald were drawn to each other through their mutual
love of classical music. They wed in 1953, and Kikue subsequently
referred to Mozart as her “matchmaker”. And during this period
Kikue adopted the western name Dorothy, as she became known
amongst her expanding community of international friends.
In early 1960, Dorothy met Masahisa Goi, a spiritual and religious
teacher and founder of the World Peace Prayer Society. Master
Goi’s simple message of personal and societal transformation
through prayer for world peace deeply resonated with Dorothy, and
this became her guiding light and passion for the rest of her
Dorothy’s children George and Robert were born in 1960 and 1963.
They attended the American School in Japan. During this period,
Dorothy became a keen bowler and one of the top women bowlers at
the Tokyo American Club, where she coached numerous kids’ and
teenagers’ bowling leagues. Dorothy was also a master of French
embroidery and taught many friends and neighbors to embroider
through classes and workshops she hosted at her home over the
years. Dorothy was also an avid singer and sang barbershop-style
with a Sweet Adelines chapter in Tokyo for many years.
As her sons moved to the US to attend university, and with Oswald
having recently retired, Dorothy and Oswald began to contemplate
life outside of Japan. In 1981, at the age of 54, Dorothy
immigrated with her family to Canada, thus beginning a new chapter
of her life and bringing to fruition the fortune teller’s
prediction from many decades earlier.
Dorothy and Oswald settled on the North Shore in Vancouver.
Dorothy struggled emotionally with the prospect of starting life
over in her fifties, but she soon concluded that moving to Canada
was possibly the best decision of her life. She quickly began
making friends through bowling leagues and by joining a North
Shore chapter of the Sweet Adelines. But Dorothy also found a new
vocation in Canada: golf. Soon, golf began to outstrip Dorothy’s
other pursuits as she plunged herself into her new passion with a
focus and dedication that astonished many.
Oswald passed away in 1987, and subsequently in 1991 Dorothy moved
to Mt. Seymour Parkway, where she would reside for the next nearly
30 years. Dorothy engaged deeply in her community, making
countless friends at Mount Seymour United Church, the Parkgate
Society Gym, and of course, Seymour Golf & Country Club. Dorothy
continued her tireless commitment to prayer for world peace,
overseeing the planting of peace poles throughout Western Canada,
drawing countless peace prayer mandalas, and creating a peace
garden at the United Church, the maintenance of which will be
supported by a fund that she has bequeathed to the church.
Dorothy will be interred alongside Oswald at the Capilano View
Cemetery in West Vancouver. She is survived by her sons George
and Robert, their spouses Akiko and Michelle, and by her
grandchildren Daniel, Maya, and Emil. Dorothy’s astounding
energy, health, and fitness set an aspirational benchmark for her
many friends. She believed strongly in the power of prayer,
gratitude, positive thinking, and relentless self-improvement, all
of which came naturally to her. Her example was an inspiration to
us all. We will miss her dearly.
Dorothy asked that a memorial service celebrating her life be held at
the Seymour Golf Club at a time when people are able to travel freely
and gather in numbers. In the meantime we ask you to consider
posting your memories, photos and thoughts to this website.
And in lieu of flowers, please again consider leaving your
favorite memories of Dorothy on this website.