Posted On September 8th, 2013 -

CLARENCE HIROYOSHI AWAYA Clarence Hiroyoshi Awaya passed away on Sunday, August 18. He had taken one brave step at a time every day during his nine month illness. Clarence was born on July 5, 1941 to Asayo and Sadame Awaya. Clarence was the youngest of eight children and one survives; Setsuko Awaya Okuda. Clarence attended Fern Elementary, Kalakaua Intermediate and graduated from Farrington High School in 1959. He attended Graceland College for one year, transferred to the University of Kansas and in 1965 he graduated with a degree in music education. His primary concert instrument was clarinet. His musical passions were inspired by his string bass, jazz and KU jazz ensembles. In 1964, Clarence was invited to be the bassist for the KU Brass Ensemble. That group was invited to participate in a State Department tour to Central Asia for three months. He met Helen whose parents were Norwegian immigrants. They married in 1968 and their 45 year marriage was a testament to the power of young love to bring race and culture together in America. Mr. Awaya began teaching music and band at Nanaikapono in 1965. He formed and directed the Nanakuli Boys Choir. That group participated in 1966 at the debut of “THE FESTIVAL ODE; The Waters of Kane” composed by George Barati. The newspaper reviewer said “One of the most starling performances of the evening was that of the Nanakuli Boys Choir singing “The Hawaiian Bird-Catching Song”, a collaboration between George Barati and Ruell Denney. The youngsters, directed by Clarence Awaya, grasped the polytonal lines, and sang with gusto and understanding. There should be a message for our educators somewhere in this”. Mr. Awaya became the band director on Nanakuli High School in 1970. During that decade he also taught a jazz performance class at Leeward Community College and served as choir director at Christ Lutheran Church in Mililani. In 1980, Mr. Awaya joined Hajime Kuwada as a band director at Aiea Intermediate. Classes and concerts were accomplishments for students who from Mr. Awaya learned the inner sounds of believing in themselves. During that decade he also directed the Mililani Chorale and the Choir at the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu. Clarence gave of himself through rigor and compassion to thousands of students, practice upon practice, note by note, phrase by phrase, one more time, year upon year. Mr. Awaya retired from the Department of Education in 1995. He then unretired and taught at Lutheran High School of Hawaii, directed a 7:00am jazz class and worked the rest of the day with Arnold Alconcel and the Castle High School Band classes. Clarence was instinctively generous, helping others with needs that he anticipated before they did. Helen and Clarence really retired in 2001 and traveled to many places to make many memories until 2012. His daughters who were also his Aiea Intermediate Band students: Elsa Marie (Joseph) and Emily Deanne Awaya Leong (Brandon) always knew he was the best father in this world. His granddaughter, Peyton Marie thought “Pops” was nothing short of a super hero. God bless his soul in the music of the spheres. You can hear his echo in the starry quiet night skies above Oahu. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in his name to nurture music appreciation at your children’s and/or grandchildren’s schools. For more information about his memorial service, please email:

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