UK

Obituary: Michael Matsushita

  • 10 January 2011
  • From the section UK
Michael Matsushita
A charity for orphans has been set up in Michael Matsushita's memory

Vietnamese-born and New York-bred, Mike Matsushita had only recently moved to London because of love.

In May 2005, he left his job as a tourist guide in Vietnam and was one month into a new life with his British girlfriend in London.

It was the end of a long period of travel - he had visited Latin America, Africa, Australia, Cambodia and Vietnam, the country his parents had fled to escape the Communists - after he left his bank job in New York in 2001.

It was during the final 18 months, when he worked as a tour guide for Intrepid Travel in Cambodia and Vietnam, that he met and fell in love with English colleague Rosie Cowan.

She had returned to London in January 2005 to work for Intrepid Travel, and Mr Matsushita had promised to follow her.

When he arrived, months later, they found a place to live together in Islington, London, and travelled to Holland and Spain together before Mr Matsushita started a new job in IT recruitment.

'Could not be better'

In a statement read out at the inquest five years after his death, his father, David Matsushita, said: "Rosie has told me that, on the morning of 7 July, the fourth day of his new job, Minh put on his suit and tie, told her he loved her and left for work [on the Piccadilly Line]."

He said the last time he had seen his son was on 31 May 2005, when Mr Matsushita had stopped in New York to see family and friends and celebrate his 37th birthday on his way to London.

"We dropped him off at the airport, gave him a big hug and a kiss and wished him luck finding a job in London.

"He was nervous as he had not seen Rosie for nearly three months after visiting her in London in early March. After reaching London this time, he sent us an e-mail which read as follows:

"'So Rosie met me at the airport and things could not be better. As soon as she saw my lovely big head and crazy hair, she just melted in my arms and all is good'," he told the inquest.

When Mr Matsushita was reported missing, David and Mr Matsushita's mother, Muoi, and his childhood friend David Golovner, flew to London and searched hospitals for him.

But police confirmed his death from identification found at the scene.

Mr Matsushita's biological father was a South Vietnamese soldier who died during the Vietnam War.

His mother, also Vietnamese, then met US aid worker David Matsushita, who adopted the boy and moved to New York after the war.

A funeral and cremation service for Mr Matsushita was held in London on 20 July 2005, with a further memorial service in New York on 30 July 2005.

In lieu of flowers, his parents and Rosie requested people made donations to the Intrepid foundation: Indochina Children's Fund for Mike - a charity set up in his honour to support needy children in Cambodia and Vietnam.

Intrepid Travel has pledged to match all donations and pay administrative costs.

Mr Golovner said his friend always showed a keen interest in bringing people of different cultures together.

And his work as a tour guide emphasised this, as he took Western travellers to local orphanages.

Mr Golovner said: "He had a huge passion for life. As a friend, he was my brother. As a person, he was a resident of the world. He had the ability to see the wonder in everything."

David Matsushita said: "Minh is much missed by everyone who knew him, but he had a positive attitude and would not wish us to grieve."