A longtime community advocate and businesswoman has died at age 79.
Josie Wannarachue of Kennewick died July 2 after a five-year struggle with breast cancer.
Wannarachue was an entrepreneur, a Tri-Cities cheerleader and world-class friend to more people than she could count, her obituary said. She once owned a travel agency simply because she loved to travel. She also owned a Thai restaurant and wrote a cookbook on Thai cooking.
She was honored for her civic contributions with the Kennewick Woman of the Year award in 2013, which she was very proud of, especially as the first Asian recipient, her obituary said.
Over the years she was involved in several organizations, including the Pasco-Kennewick Rotary, Mid-Columbia Arts Council, March of Dimes, The ARC of Tri-Cities, Philippine American Association, Mid-Columbia Symphony Guild, Washington State Mint Association, Children’s Reading Foundation, Safe Harbor Support Center and Domestic Violence Services of Benton and Franklin Counties, and she co-chaired May Fest for St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Kennewick.
She also co-chaired fundraising efforts to build or expand the Tri-Cities Cancer Center and Trios Hospital. She and her husband formed the Mid-Columbia Asian Association in the Tri-Cities, and they maintained their ties to their homelands, including Thailand, where her husband grew up.
A native of The Philippines, Wannarachue was an advocate for higher education and hosted and “mothered” several foreign exchange students from Europe and Asia that refer to her as “Mom” today. She also served on the Columbia Basin College Board of Trustees.
She was an advocate for recruiting physicians to the Tri-Cities and encouraging them to become active members of the community.
She attended University of the Philippines before transferring to St. Luke’s College of Nursing, Trinity University of Asia in Manila to complete her nursing degree. She then moved to Newark, New Jersey, for post-graduate training, where she met and later married Dr. Nikom Wannarachue – a Thai pediatric resident.
She is survived by her husband; daughter JoAnne Wannarachue Lord and her husband, Jeffrey, and their daughters Mali and Lili of Los Angeles; daughter Jennifer Wannarachue Chevchek and her husband, Brian, and their son, Everett, of Seattle; and son Nathan of Kennewick.
A funeral Mass was held July 13 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Kennewick.
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