Skip to Main Content
Idaho State University

Idaho nursing legend Alyce Kazuko Sato dies at age 88

December 23, 2019

POCATELLO – Alyce Kazuko Sato, a well-known Idaho nurse and Idaho State University faculty member, died Sunday, Dec. 15 in Pocatello.

Alyce Sato head shot“Alyce was dedicated to the nursing profession and patients, and made outstanding and valued contributions to building the profession of nursing at ISU and across Idaho,” said Karen Neill, interim dean for the ISU College of Nursing. “She will be greatly missed.”

She described herself as a lifelong learner and she attributed that to her childhood and family. She was born March 7, 1931, to Japanese immigrant parents who did not speak much English, and in their home they only had a small radio.  Thus, Sato became a frequent visitor to the public library.  She said that reading was her adventure and that she could not remember a time in her life when she did not have a library card.  Reading prompted her desire to learn.  She loved reading about nurses and it was a natural move for her to become a nurse. 

Sato is remembered for her contributions to nursing over several decades, and her time at the ISU College of Nursing where she holds professor emeritus status. She first practiced as a licensed practical nurse, and then went to Idaho State University where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1969.  She followed this degree with a master’s in curriculum development from ISU in 1976, and then a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Portland in 1979.  She worked at hospitals in Pocatello and became the in-service education director at St. Anthony Hospital. That prompted her to become interested in teaching.

Sato then joined the nursing faculty at ISU where she taught for 28 years.  During her time at ISU she obtained a doctoral degree in educational administration from the University of Utah and became the chairperson for the Department of Nursing. During her tenure at ISU, the master’s program in nursing expanded to remote areas of the state, and graduate education in Idaho increased.  Her many contributions have impacted nursing education and the careers of generations of Idaho nurses.  Sato was instrumental in moving the Department of Nursing to a School of Nursing, which eventually became the College of Nursing and loved ISU.

Sato received many honors during her career. In 1981 she was appointed by Gov. John Evans to the Idaho Board of Nursing. In 1983 she was elected chairman of the Board of Nursing and she served in that role until 1987 when her term expired.  In 1995, she was again appointed to this board by Governor Cecil Andrus, and she served a four-year term. In 2006, she was named an Idaho Nursing Legend and also received the Distinguished Career in Nursing recognition by the March of Dimes. 

Idaho State University, a Carnegie-classified doctoral high research activity university and teaching institution founded in 1901, attracts students from around the world to its Idaho campuses. At the main campus in Pocatello, and at locations in Meridian, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls, ISU has nine Colleges, a Graduate School and a Division of Health Sciences that together offer more than 250 certificate and degree programs. More than 12,000 students attend ISU. Idaho State University is the state's designated lead institution in health professions.