August 11, 1923 to January 11, 2012
Theodore (Ted) Plaister of Honolulu passed away peacefully on January 11, 2012 at the age of 88, surrounded by his nieces and nephews, in Healdsburg, California. Ted was born at home on Point Loma, in San Diego CA, the son of Deane and Betty Plaister. His father was an engineer who helped build the railroads across the Midwest, and later became a banker in San Diego, CA. His mother taught school in a one room school house in Wyoming.
Ted served in the U.S. Army in the Philippines during WWII, and was awarded 2 bronze stars. After the war, he graduated from the University of California at Davis in animal husbandry and took his first assignment as a livestock advisor in Thailand, where he spent many happy years. It was there that he found his natural affinity for languages, and set his sights on becoming a professor. Ted became a teaching fellow at the English Language Institute at the University of Michigan, and returned to Thailand as a lecturer and instructor of English for several years.
Ted attained his professorship in 1967, and taught for over 20 years at the University of Hawaii. He served as an associate professor and founding chairman of the University’s Department of English as a Second Language. Over his career Ted prepared hundreds of students to effectively teach English as a second language. He used his wonderful sense of humor to entertain and inspire his students and colleagues. As he aged, his former student and friend Bob Miller, and loyal friends, including Chuck Whitley and Gary James, along with his kind neighbors, helped care for him in Honolulu.
Ted loved Hawaiian culture and adopted Hawaii as his home. After being diagnosed with dementia, he spent a brief time under the kind care of the people at Lunalilo Home, before moving back to California to be cared for by his niece. The family is also grateful for the assistance provided by Denise Mazzanti from It’s Your Move and Martha Wacker, RN.
A memorial attended by his friends and family was held in San Diego in April. His lifelong friend, Dr. Denny Mauricio, spoke of his generosity and kindness. His student and friend, Albino Garcia, performed a beautiful Native American blessing. Ted was interred with honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego near his beloved brothers Deane and Bob, sister Betty, and his father and mother.
Throughout Ted’s life he searched for ways to help people and to bring them together to understand their cultural differences. He mentored and encouraged many young writers, including the wonderful local author Frances Kakugawa. He also provided financial aid for college students, funded dog visitation programs for hospitals, supported an organization for the parents of Gays and Lesbians, helped people with AIDS, supported several civil rights and environmental organizations and helped support disadvantaged families locally and in several countries.
His kind, generous heart and wonderful sense of humor will be greatly missed.