Carol Setsuko Ashihara, age 74, passed away peacefully at her home on Mercer Island from Multiple Myeloma on September 20, 2018. She was born on December 2, 1943 at the Minidoka Japanese-American internment camp in Idaho.

A life-long Seattle area resident, Carol attended, Garfield and Rainer Beach High Schools and the UW. She met her husband Eric on a blind date when they went night skiing. Eric was an avionics engineer at Boeing for 35 years. Carol worked professionally as a beautician at several well-known salons in Seattle and continued to do so part-time out of her home while their two children Greg and Kelly were young. Eric and Carol were married for fifty years and he cared for her throughout her battle with cancer.

Carol’s peaceful disposition and patience revealed a unique ability to communicate with children with learning disabilities leading her to tutoring special-needs children while volunteering at Campbell Hill Elementary in South Seattle, where Greg and Kelly went to school. She continued this role with the Mercer Island School district while also tutoring special-needs children privately. Prior to retiring in 2016, Carol spent over a decade teaching at several preschools on Mercer Island including Patti Play Center, Emanuel Day School and Sunnybeam.

With an eye for beauty and a penchant for perfection, Carol was an avid reader, had an appreciation for Japanese art and found solace in gardening as a pastime. Carol was truly selfless often placing the needs of others before her own. The Ashihara family has resided on Mercer Island since 1984. She is survived by her husband Eric, son Greg (wife, Lynn), daughter Kelly (husband Seyong) and their children Joey (7) and Jordan Setsuko (1) named after Carol.

Please join us for an intimate event honoring Carol’s life on Sunday, October 21st from 5-6pm at Sunnybeam Preschool 8635 SE 68th St. Mercer Island. This event is for residents who have enjoyed Carol as an educator and for friends and neighbors with whom we have shared life’s moments.

In lieu of flowers, the family wishes to have donations to a Sunnybeam Carol Ashihara fund – to honor the life and dedication to teaching, learning and a love of gardening. For more information please contact Kelly Ashihara at 206-883-6796 or visit

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