Tet Choi Fung was born on July 2, 1920 to Oi Yin Ng (mother) and Ah Tyam Fung (father) in Kohala on the Island of Hawaii. He died peacefully on Thursday, April 5, 2012, at Hospice Hawaii in Kailua, Oahu.
Tet Choi or Choi as he was known was the eighth of 13 children. He began his education at Aina Kea Elementary and then at Honomakau School, the forerunner to Kohala High School, graduating in 1938. He was then groomed to take over the family poi business, but Choi also remembered his first paying job with Kohala Sugar, a Castle and Cooke subsidiary, earning 35 cents a day for Summer work, and his job as a truck driver with big time wages at $1.50 per day.
When Choi moved to Oahu, he worked as a milk deliveryman for Dairymen’s, the forerunner to Meadow Gold Dairies, and drove a route that took him to East Oahu via Kalanianaole Hwy. He then worked at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard as a mechanic.
While renting on Oahu, Choi met and married Shuk Sim (Simmy) Yuen in 1942. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Choi was drafted into the Army and stationed at Schofield Barracks. When the war ended, he returned to work at Pearl Harbor. Choi, Simmy and their four children settled in Kahalu’u on ‘Oahu and raised cattle and pigs along with chickens, ducks, turkeys and rabbits and planted their own vegetables, which included watercress and ong choi. Choi continued his employment with the Federal Government, having transferred from Pearl Harbor to the Kaneohe Marine Base Hawaii, as a mechanic and heavy equipment supervisor and retired in 1973.
In anticipation of retirement, Choi began the banana farms that he and his sons were best known for. As a member of the Young Farmers Association, he worked with the Future Farmers of America (FFA) at Castle High School. Until his stroke in August 2009, he continued his farming work while being actively involved with the agricultural program at the high school. Choi was also a charter member of the Kahalu’u Lions and a member of the Hawaii Farm Bureau.
Tet Choi Fung is survived by his wife, Simmy; daughters, Ariel (Larry d.) Chun and Norma (The Rev. Canon Franklin) Chun; son, Aaron (Diane d.); brother, James; sisters, Anna Ching, Hilda Soon and Esther (Robert) Kong; 10 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. Son Eric predeceased him in 2007.
The Fung family wishes to thank Hokulaki Care Home in Kane’ohe and Hospice Hawai’i in Kailua for the wonderful care they provided their patriarch.
Celebration of life services will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, 2012, at Ke’ehi Lagoon Memorial, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Memorial Hall (formally the Disabled Veterans Hall) at 2685 North Nimitz Hwy. Visitation at 2:30 p.m. Hawaiian or casual attire.