Evelyn Hinako Ito

Posted On April 8th, 2012 -


The fifth of twelve children, was born on Kauai in February of 1926, to parents descended from samurai families who had chosen to make a new life in Hawaii. Though her legal name was Hinako, she was also given an English name, Evelyn, which is how her friends and family knew her.
Evelyn was three in 1929, around the time of the stock market crash, when the family moved from Kauai to Waialua, on Oahu, near her mother’s relatives. The family soon moved on to Waiahole, a day’s journey across the island, but young Evelyn remained on the North Shore at the request of her relatives. Even as a small child, she was given the important responsibility of weighing harvest and recording production on the taro and hasu farms. When Evelyn was eleven, her mother passed away unexpectedly, and she rejoined her father, brothers and sisters in Waiahole to help her family. She remembered the days in lush Waiahole valley as some of her happiest, with her brother Herbert climbing a huge rose apple tree and throwing the fruit down to her.
Evelyn was fifteen when the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor led to the creation of relocation camps for Japanese Americans. In Hawaii, educated Japanese were targeted. Her father buried his sword and kimono, and burned all proof of his literacy, including diaries and poetry.
When FBI agents came to search their home, they found no suspicious papers-only a picture on the wall of her older brother, Ralph, who was serving in the 442nd battalion, in his U.S. Army uniform. The agents left with nothing, and the family remained together throughout the war.
In her teens, Evelyn left Waiahole to work in Honolulu and send money to her family. She earned her room and board by sitting and housekeeping in Manoa, and when she turned eighteen she began a long career with Sears, a new department store that had just opened its Beretania Street location three years before. In 1959, Sears moved to its anchor position at the newly opened Ala Moana Shopping Center, then the largest shopping mall in the United States. Evelyn stayed with Sears for forty-nine years, retiring in 1993 at the age of sixty-seven, as a merchandise systems analyst. She had been a part of the transition from hand powered office machines to interconnected computer systems.
Evelyn enjoyed crocheting, knitting, and embroidery, reading, tending her plants, and watching movies from the “good old days.” But she enjoyed her grandchildren and great-grandchildren most of all.
Shortly after moving to an independent living community, Evelyn fell while rising from her chair after dinner, and passed away peacefully on Feb. 14, days short of her 86th birthday. A few days after her death, Sears Ala Moana, where she had spent her career, announced its coming closure, the end of an era for Hawaii.
Friends and family remember Evelyn for her steadiness, her even temper and her great and unwavering love for her family.
She is survived by brother Herbert Inoshita, son Richard, daughter Elinor, grandchildren Lavonne, Bradley, and Bennett, and great granddaughters Matilda and Beatrix. Private services were held on
March 8 at Aiea Hongwanji.

- Denotes U.S. Military Veteran