August 16, 2021

Masae DeBaets

Masae was born February 1, 1925 in Yamguchi, Japan and attended an all girls’ school. She became an accomplished seamstress, created kimonos and even made Japanese dolls with elegant dress.  She loved to sew her own clothes, usually choosing fabric in her favorite color purple.

She was 17 years old when World War II started.  She didn’t share much about her life during that time, but there was hardship.  Masae talked about her family owning horses that were for hire and race horses.  She laughed about how they gave the horses beer to drink.  Masae spent much of her younger years with her grandmother who she admired and loved.  Her grandmother helped deliver babies and took in stray animals.

After the “Number two war”, as she called it, she was a waitress at an American airforce base.  Masae met  a soldier there, Emiel DeBaets.  They were married July 15, 1960 in Fukuoka, Japan and in 1963 moved to Travis Air Force Base in California.  They had 2 children, Sally and Raymond. In 1974 they moved to Emiel’s home town Shelby, Nebraska.  She became a cook at Bernt’s Café and was known for her oriental cuisine.  She loved to cook and her soups and pies were craved by many. She made countless pumpkin pies for Emiel since that was his favorite, he even preferred them for his birthday.

Masae adored her four grandchildren Rachel, Kyle, Jennifer and Mason and she prouldly watched them grow up.  Because of Covid 19 she watched Jennifer’s marriage to Caleb Riggs via live stream.

Her companion after Emiel passed away in 2000 was a little shelter dog she named Poncho.  He adored her with all his heart.  Masae made him food from scratch and walked him almost daily.  She will surely find Poncho and several beloved pets at the Rainbow Bridge.

An impression was definitely left at St. Joseph’s Court in David City Nebraska where she lived the last three years.  She kept everyone on their toes.  She would often insist the nurses have a little  cheese dip and crackers in her room. She loved them all, they were her second family.

Masae was diagnosed with cancer June 29th and passed away peacefully August 10th with Sally and Ray by her side.  She is preceded in death by Emiel, her husband of 40 years, her brother Yoshiharu and her parents. She will be greatly missed by her family and friends.

Memorials will be designated to St. Joseph’s Court in David City, Nebraska.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date.


  1. So sorry for your loss Sally she must have been a wonderful Wife Mother and Grandmother and I am sure she will be missed by many

  2. Such an amazing lady. Thoughts and prayers for Sally and Ray and their families. May the wonderful memories you shared give you comfort.

    Renee Asche and the entire Kumpf family.


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