Surrounded by his family, Shigemi Arakawa, 93, peacefully slipped away on July 29, 2012, a few days before their 66th anniversary, to join Molly in their “Blue Heaven.” Even in his last days, Shigemi, who had retired in 1995 as President of Arakawas, regaled all with stories of old Waipahu and the family’s iconic palaka, plantation-style department store.
The fourth son of Zempan and Tsuru Arakawa’s nine children, Shigemi made his mark in the large family by being the showman and social extrovert. With his precociousness and “gift of gab,” he was placed in the English standard program at August Ahrens School and then went on to Mid Pacific Institute where he excelled in student government. In the 1930s, he used his talents as a social activities organizer to establish the Machi Club, an association for both boys and girls, and later was involved in community service projects with the YMCA, Lions Club, Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce, Keymen, Waipahu United Church of Christ, and Honolulu Heart Program.
Starting out as the Manager/Buyer of the Import and Gift section of Arakawas, Shigemi was often described as a “creative merchandising genius” by his siblings and wholesalers and manufacturers throughout the Pacific Rim. He developed the planned chaos concept of retailing that gave the store its special ambiance and was reflected in every Arakawas’ Sunday newspaper ad. On buying trips around the world, he displayed an uncanny eye for finding things that would catch people’s fancy and sold goods as varied as sculptor Noguchi lamps, tapa-themed dinnerware, mosquito coils, and plastic orchid leis.
Shigemi will be truly missed by his children: Myron (Ellen) Arakawa, Charlene “Sha” Murata, Cosmo (Ann) Arakawa; grandchildren: Shelley Arakawa (Jarrid Whitney), Lauren (Brian) Higa, Wayde (Yuka) Murata, Jordan (Chelsey) Arakawa Lyndsey Arakawa; great-grandchildren: Jessie and Addison Higa, Kalia Whitney, Kaito Murata; brother: Goro Arakawa; and his large, extended Arakawa and Tamashiro ‘Ohana.
The family thanks Dr. Melvin Inamasu and his staff and the staffs of Hale Malamalama and Bristol Hospice for their compassionate care of Shigemi.
Shigemi’s life will be celebrated on Sunday, September 9th at Hosoi Garden Mortuary. Friends may visit at 9:00 am; service at 10:00 am. Aloha attire. The family requests that flowers be omitted.