U.T. Saunders, 59, And 'Cherry' Enoki, 33
Two members of our close multi-hued family of friends passed in 2008: U.T. Saunders at 59 and Chihiro "Cherry" Enoki, at 33. U.T. was born and raised in Cleveland but came of age in Boston, a city once wracked by racial turmoil. U.T. was part of the solution.
He was a Harvard-trained organizational consultant who helped schools, nonprofits and corporations come face to face with racial, gender and class divisions. His greatest passion was jazz.
When Bill Evans taps the piano lightly in "Waltz for Debbie" we see U.T.'s head swaying. Then there's the picture of him snapping his fingers, oh so lightly, like quiet applause, at an Andy Bey performance — U.T.'s last — in December 2007.
And when water falls from the sky some nights, we hear U.T.'s music, like the sound of steady raindrops. U.T. died of cancer Jan. 31 at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. He is survived by his son, Brendan, and daughter, Kelly.
When we last saw Cherry it was over brunch in Brooklyn at a South African restaurant named for Nelson Mandela. Finding it was an example of Cherry's inner GPS. She gravitated to and swam in a broad sea of humanity.
Born in Japan, she was the infamous nail that stood out. And in the United States, this Emmy-nominated, Brooklyn-based TV editor turned science documentaries for Nova and The Discovery Channel into virtual art house filmmaking.
Cherry, an adventurous, warm and compassionate dynamo of a woman, fell to her death climbing California's Mt. Shasta Thanksgiving week. Over brunch she had spoken excitedly about climbing this peak, and from there going on to greater heights. She did.
She was honored at a ceremony at a Buddhist shrine in Los Angeles. Her brother, Yoshi , father, Yoshi Sr., and mother, Kayo, plan one day to take Cherry's ashes to Japan.
Cherry and U.T.: We miss you.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.