Earthpeace Monument | Pilgrim Stories - Toni
A contemporary Yule marble sculpture symbolizing the dove nestling a bronze globe inscribed with Peace in 45 languages recognizing generations of lives lived in service to promote peace in the US and around the world
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Toni Shimer

Toni Finds Keiko’s Home

Toni had been so relieved when she had placed the ten year old boy, Akira and his thirteen year old sister, Keika, in a good home.  Like so many children after World War II, they were orphaned because their American soldier/father had gone back to the states and, something had happened to the mother.  In this case, their mother had died.  They’d taken turns living with aunts and their seventy-six year old grandmother.  But, then, the aunts decided the girl’s mixed race might scare away eligible suitors for their own daughters.  “Besides”, they argued, as they brought the children to Toni- a social worker in the Tokyo World International Social Service, “She’s just too old!” So, Toni visited Army post after Army Post until she finally found a stable married couple of mixed races that had been willing to give the children a home.

She remembered the joy she’d felt when she told her husband that night that she’d brought the peace of “home” to two more children… She’d said a prayer of gratitude, But the next morning came the phone call had made her heart so heavy.  Keiko was caught sniffing glue.  The new parents wouldn’t have her.  They’d keep the boy, Akira, but they couldn’t deal with a “glue sniffer”, even if Toni did explain that so many of the abandoned children turned to anything they could find to help alleviate their hurt and loneliness.

Toni took a saddened and shamed Keiko home with her that day.  She told her not to worry.  All would be right.  Then, she lay awake for hours wondering what she would do. In the morning, she realized there was only one more person to turn to.  She called the American father.  Toni painted the picture with all its pathos.  She wanted so much for him to take this little girl and realize she was his own, that she almost didn’t hear him say: “Why, Yes!”  But, she quickly saw an opening and rallied and told him that if he did, he must promise to always keep the two children in touch with each other.  And, again, he simply pledged: “Yes”.  And, he kept his promise.

Toni painted the picture with all its pathos. She wanted so much for him to take this little girl and realize she was his own, that she almost didn't hear him say: ``Why, Yes!``

When Toni said, “Yes” to Eliot Shimer’s proposal, she had also said “yes” to becoming a United Methodist Missionary.  With a masters in Social Work, she was a natural to help foreigners from all over the world to adjust to living in Japan, plus other jobs like teaching/counseling in “Planned Parenthood” in Nagasaki.  Tragically, women used abortion as their only birth control.  Some had had four or five abortions resulting in damage to their health and emotions.  Antoinette (Toni), born in Rochester of Italian Immigrants, worked, also in Denison, Ohio as a Case Worker; in Kobe Japan, adopting babies of strangers and in the Psychiatric Hospital in Wisconsin as well as teaching in the University of Wisconsin and Ohio State University.  As Exec. Director of National Association of Social Workers-Ohio Chapter, she helped bring about State Legislation for promoting Single Pay System of Health Care.

– by Constance Waddell

Toni Shimer