Kay Kyoko Yokoyama: 1925-2014

Posted On May 22nd, 2014 -

Hawaii island painter supported arts community
By Rosemarie Bernardo

Hawaii island artist Kay Kyoko Yoko­yama, known for her devotion to culture and the arts, died April 29 at Kua­kini Medical Center. She was 88.

Yokoyama won various awards for her artwork, which included five paintings purchased by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts for its Art in Public Places Collection. She also she served as a board member of the East Hawaii Cultural Council.

Friends and family members described her as a positive force who provided constant support to the community. Richard Nelson, who served as Yoko­yama’s art mentor, said she was both straightforward and modest to a fault, a sincere person with integrity.

“She was very special that way,” Nelson said.

Born and raised in Hilo, Yoko­yama earned a master’s degree in psychiatric social work from Simmons College in Boston. She worked as a psychiatric social worker at the Queen’s Medical Center and at the Hilo Counseling Center. Yoko­yama also served as a health planner until her retirement. She then delved into her passion and became a commercial artist.

Yokoyama also co-edited a book, “Poets Behind Barbed Wire,” featuring works from Japa­nese-Americans who were confined at internment camps during World War II. In addition she coordinated a book proj­ect for the cultural council titled “Aloha ‘Aina: Big Island Memories.”

Yokoyama was member of the koto club at the Hilo Dai­jingu Mission and Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin.

Philip Miyamoto, Yoko­yama’s son, said, “She will be best remembered for a person with a lot of joy in her heart. She always looked at the positive of a situation. She never saw the negative in people.”

Yokoyama’s longtime friend Frances Kaku­gawa said she had a childlike wonder. “It was wonderful being in her company because of this,” Kaku­gawa said.

In addition to her son — also known as Phil Abbot, program director and morning show host for 107.9 Kool Gold (KKOL radio) — Yoko­yama is survived by brother George and two grandchildren.

Yokoyama’s memorial service will be held Saturday at the Dodo Mortuary Chapel in Hilo. Visitation will start at 3 p.m. with the service to follow at 4 p.m. Cas­ual attire. No flowers.

23-A24-obit-Kay-Yokoyama-1Kay Kyoko Yokoyama (Photo courtesy Phil Abbot)

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