Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category


Posted On October 4th, 2014 -

Newswoman possessed skill and moxie to spare

By Michael Tsai /

A member of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro Athletics Hall of Fame and a former designer and copy editor for the Honolulu Advertiser, Elizabeth House forged a distinguished 35-year career in journalism out of a keen intellect, a love of sports and a broad set of newsroom skills.
House died Friday at the age of 56.

She is survived by brothers Kirk and Walt.

“Elizabeth was one of the most intelligent people I ever met in my life,” said longtime friend and Advertiser co-worker Wanda Adams. “Playing Trivial Pursuit with her was suicidal. But she also had a wonderful sense of humor, and she dealt with her physical infirmities really quite well.”

House was in North Carolina to attend the UNC-Greensboro Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony when she died.

Inducted into the hall in 2003 for her coverage of the championship Spartans soccer teams in the 1980s, House returned to North Carolina each year to celebrate the induction of each new Hall of Fame class.

Unbeknownst to her, House was to have received a special recognition from the athletics department at Saturday’s induction ceremony.
House’s elder brother, Kirk, accepted the honor on her behalf.

“She really made her bones covering those teams,” Kirk House said. “I think that experience was the high point of her life. It would have been wonderful for her to receive that award and to see all of her old friends.”

Elizabeth House began working as a reporter for the Greensboro News & Record while she was still an undergraduate at UNC-Greensboro. Like her mother, an English teacher, House had a heightened sensitivity for language and an appreciation for good writing.

Her own writing abilities — and her characteristic moxie — were given full expression in her work covering the men’s and women’s soccer teams.

“Women sports reporters were still kind of a novelty back then,” Kirk House said. “But she made her mark in that good ol’ boys club. She wasn’t a militant feminist but she knew how to assert herself and she never had trouble making friends. She just charmed her way through.”

Elizabeth House worked at the News & Record from 1979 until 1993, when she saw a posting for job at the Honolulu Advertiser.

Though she had never traveled outside of North Carolina, House didn’t hesitate once the job was offered.

The culture shock in moving from the continental South to the South Pacific was predictably jarring, her brother said, but House quickly fell in love with her new home.

“Whenever she came back, all of our family would try to encourage her to stay but she always said she had to get back to Hawaii,” Kirk House said. “It was amazing. She fell hard for Hawaii.”

Elizabeth House worked for the Advertiser from 1993 until its merger with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2010.  Although her primary responsibilities were as a page designer and copy editor, she also took pride in having written articles for every section of the paper.

House became known as a go-to person whenever tech-obtuse co-workers needed help with computers or software.

“She was a whiz,” Adams said. “I went to her whenever I couldn’t understand what my Mac was doing. She didn’t suffer fools gladly, but she would always give you great help if you needed it.”

Less known was the fact that House was also a talented musician who sang and played guitar and piano. House was also deeply spiritual and devoted much time to church activities.

“She was just a happy person,” Kirk House said, “playful, smart, curious and just happy.”

Posted in Featured

Don Dymond: 1946-2014

Posted On October 3rd, 2014 -

Kailua businessman was ‘a mentor to many’

Don Dymond was known for his insistence on doing the right thing and mentoring young people.

He is possibly best-known as the owner or co-owner of Kalapawai Market, a beachside Kailua landmark, its sister-restaurant in Kailua town and Zia’s Caffe in Kailua and Kaneohe. Dymond died Tuesday of cancer at age 68.

Born in Reading, Pa., his family later moved to California with his U.S. Air Force stepfather.

It was in the Sacramento area “where we met and eventually married,” said his wife of 42 years, Marianne. In the 1970s, “we came here on vacation, probably several years later, and just decided to move here.”

Dymond was known for active support of the community, donating to the annual “I Love Kailua Town” party and contributing to the annual Independence Day fireworks show in Kailua.

He “set the standard for how to conduct business in Kailua. He was generous, supportive, and a mentor to many. Don Dymond was Kailua,” said Cynthia Manley, Kailua Chamber of Commerce president.

The Dymond family businesses “donated to a lot of the local schools and community groups, paddling clubs, and Le Jardin, (to which) he was a big donor,” said eldest son Lindsey Dymond. “My brother and I went to Le Jardin,” he said.

In his youth, his father had worked for the Weinstock’s retail chain, then became a salesman and then manager for Xerox.

In Bakersfield, Dymond opened two sandwich shops named Quicksand, as well as a print shop.

“He was doing that when we went on vacation and decided to move to Hawaii, so he sold those businesses quickly and we came over and started our new life here,” his wife said.

On Oahu, Dymond started the Courthouse Racquetball chain of fitness centers on Kapiolani Boulevard, in Kaneohe near what is now Zia’s Caffe, and in Mapunapuna.

He worked in commercial real estate, finding and developing Gas Express stations, and then in 1991 he and a partner who he later bought out, started working on the purchase of Kalapawai Market.

They had driven past the market during that first visit to Hawaii. “He looked at that location and said, ‘That could just be a landmark building … it could be really great,’ and how ironic, when it was possible for him to help build that business,” she said.

Zia’s Caffe was established at 184 Hamakua Drive in Kailua in 1998 by Dymond and partner Tressa Owens. The Kaneohe Zia’s followed three years later. The Kailua location was sold last year.

“I didn’t know him all that well, but …I respected him. He had a great reputation and …I never heard a bad thing about him, ever,” said Kern Rogerson, former owner of Jaron’s, a Zia’s neighbor on Hamakua Drive.

“He was an amazing businessman,” said Rogerson, who remembers Kalapawai before Dymond bought it. “It was a run-down, typical mom and pop store, like out of a bygone era. Don bought it, and I’m thinking he’s nuts, but then watched it just explode.”

Under Dymond’s leadership the building at 306 S. Kalaheo Ave. took on its familiar green-and-white facade, which inspired a Kailua High School Alumni Association float for the annual Kailua Fourth of July Parade one year.

Even when Dymond was arrested for moving a traffic cone in an incident the Hono­lulu Police Department described as “disorderly and aggressive conduct,” the business community rallied to support him, Marianne and Lindsey Dymond recalled with laughter.

“The short story is that a giant sinkhole opened up on Hamakua and there was a big project to repair the sewer line all the way down the road,” Lindsey said. “There was an agreement between the contractor and the business owners that when they were doing the work in front of the strip center, they would allow ingress and egress instead of simply closing the road.”

On Pro Bowl Sunday, the special duty police officer hired to direct traffic “brought a lawn chair, cooler, umbrella and a radio, and sat down and closed the intersection so he could listen to the bowl game,” Lindsey Dymond said.

In the verbal exchange that followed, Don Dymond agreed to take responsibility for public safety as people entered and exited the parking lot, explaining that the officer was not permitted to inhibit the flow of business.

The officer arrested Dymond for moving a traffic safety cone that had been blocking access to the businesses, Lindsey Dymond said.

“He was actually doing the right thing, helping people and doing what made sense, and so we had the Don Dymond Legal Relief Fund,” Marianne Dymond said. “It shows a lot about Don and his courage to stand up for the rights of small businesses.”

Dymond hired part-time Zia’s staffer Jason Iwane as a chef to help with the 2006 opening of Kalapawai Cafe & Deli in the center of Kailua Town.

“It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” Iwane said. When the other chef left, “I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep it moving forward, but (Dymond) put all his trust in me and I didn’t want to let him down,” Iwane said. Dymond created a work environment “that had a family vibe,” Iwane said. “It was easy to stay, making everybody’s life better, tied into each other, so we all move together,” he said.

At Kalapawai Cafe Tuesday afternoon and evening as Dymond’s employees learned of his death, “we had representatives of all three restaurants … celebrating his life. He was an awesome guy.”

In addition to his wife and his son Lindsey, Dymond is survived by another son, Jeffrey; daughter Kellie; brothers Mel Dymond and Fred Seghetti; and sisters Sandy Emerson and Carol Farthing.

The family will stage a private service, but also is planning a celebration of his life to which the public will be invited, likely at the end of the month, Marianne Dymond said.

“Don’s real wish,” is that he be remembered for what he felt was his biggest contribution, “helping young people, by mentoring and teaching them and helping them to do good work for good reasons,” she said.

She noted the outpouring of remembrances posted on the My Kailua Facebook page. “It would make him really happy to see all that,” she said.

Posted in Featured

Atsuo Miura: 1929-2014

Posted On September 19th, 2014 -

Army veteran honored with Distinguished Service Cross
By Gary T. Kubota

Atsuo “Aji” Miura, a Maui resident who received a Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry in action in 1952 during the Korean War, died Sept. 1 at Kula Hospital. He was 85.

Miura did not talk about his experiences in the Korean War, and quietly returned to civilian life after serving in the Army, finding work cleaning debris from nuclear test sites in the Marshall Islands, brother James Miura said.

Family members first learned about Atsuo Miura’s heroism when they received a call from the Army at Fort Shafter sometime in 1953, James Miura said.

“A general was looking for him. It came as a big surprise, ” Miura recalled.

Atsuo Miura was a corporal attached to the 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, when members of his platoon were ordered to attack the enemy on a hill at Karhyon-ni in North Korea on June 12, 1952.

Online records provided by gave this account of the action:

The platoon’s advance was halted near a trench on the slope. With a pistol and bayonet, Miura charged up the hill.

As he ran, he picked up enemy grenades, then threw them into the enemy trenches and bunkers. Another soldier came to his aid with a flame-thrower, and they cleared the area, allowing the platoon to advance.

As Miura was rejoining the platoon, a concussion grenade fell between him and the platoon sergeant. Miura threw his helmet on the grenade and flung his body on the helmet. He was stunned, but later captured the soldier who threw the grenade.

Atsuo Miura was born in Wai­luku, the youngest in a family of six children.

His father died when he was 3, and his mother cleaned homes, James Miura said.

At age 35, half of Atsuo Miura’s body was paralyzed from a stroke, his brother said. But he managed to walk with a brace and a cane.

“He never blamed anybody for his stroke. That never got him down. He was happy. … He had a lot of friends,” his brother said.

Private services were held. Miura is also survived by sister Midge Loth and nieces and nephews.

Maui resident Atsuo Miura receives the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism as a U.S. soldier in 1952 during the Korean War. The medal was awarded to Miura while he was working in the Marshall Islands as a civilian clearing debris at nuclear test sites. (COURTESY MIURA FAMILY)

Maui resident Atsuo Miura receives the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism as a U.S. soldier in 1952 during the Korean War. The medal was awarded to Miura while he was working in the Marshall Islands as a civilian clearing debris at nuclear test sites. (COURTESY MIURA FAMILY)

Posted in Featured

CARL CROSIER / 1945-2014

Posted On September 3rd, 2014 -

Authenticity fueled beloved church musician’s work

By Steven Mark /

Carl Crosier, who developed the music program at Lutheran Church of Honolulu into one of the pre-eminent music organizations in the state, died Aug. 28 of the effects of pancreatic cancer. He was 68.04-B4-FTR-crosier-01

Crosier led the church’s music program for 36 years. His title was cantor, which nominally is supposed to designate the chief singer and music instructor of the church, and while his fine voice is what first got him noticed as a musician — as a child, he would correct his mother’s singing — it was as a choral and later an orchestral leader that he excelled.

He was known in particular for leading “authentic” performances, a style that uses historic instruments and techniques specific to the era of composition. For the Baroque-era music that he specialized in, that meant using a harpsichord instead of a piano and relatively little use of vibrato by string players and vocalists.

He even imported a band of traditional brass players for one performance to give audiences the experience of hearing instruments like the sackbut, an early trombone.

One of his most recent performances was on his fortepiano, the precursor to the modern grand piano.

Crosier established a small chamber group, the Bach Chamber Orchestra, in 1981 and in 1992 began a series of small recitals, the Abendmusik (Evening Music), at the church. He then began giving large-scale productions of major orchestral and choral works, beginning with Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in 2000.

Crosier had gone on sabbatical the year earlier and participated in a production of the famous choral work, which requires a double orchestra and a double choir.

“He wanted to have the ultimate performance,” said Crosier’s wife, Katherine, who played organ at Lutheran Church of Honolulu. “He brought in six singers from the mainland, and an oboe player even came from Scotland. … The church had to be remodeled, and they had to have new lighting installed.

“The cost was $64,000, and he single-handedly raised it. Whenever he did productions, he always wanted them to be the very best.”

Among the many top-notch musicians he brought for his performances was Dutch baritone Max van Egmond for Bach’s St. John Passion at 2004, performing as Jesus.

“When Carl heard his voice in person, he broke down during rehearsal, and he said, ‘This is the only Jesus voice I know,’” Katherine Crosier said.

The work of Bach was his inspiration. Other major works Crosier conducted were 70 cantatas, the Brandenburg Concertos, a harpsichord extravaganza that brought four of the rare instruments to the stage, and Bach’s B Minor Mass, which he led for his retirement concert.

Although Crosier was cantor of Lutheran Church, many of his performances were at other churches in Honolulu, drawing packed houses at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa and the Cathedral of Saint Andrew.

“It was wherever the performance would work the best,” Katherine Crosier said.

He also developed the choral program at Lutheran Church of Honolulu, establishing choirs that would perform at all the major services.

When Crosier first started working at the church, “there were seven people in the choir and none of them read music,” Katherine Crosier said. “By the time he left in 2011, there were 70 people involved in the music program and there were four choirs.”

Carl Crosier was a native of Washington and trained as a concert pianist at the University of Washington. He came to Hawaii in 1972 and was hired as organist at Lutheran Church. He eventually became the technician for the organ and also founded a publishing house, Ionian Music, of rare sacred music.

He was a self-taught conductor, admitting in an interview that he was “terrible” and “really afraid”?when he first started conducting.

“I didn’t have the technique in terms of how to show people what you?wanted,”?he said “Over the years, it was just something I?learned on the job.”

Crosier also had a business degree and was employed as financial adviser for St. Andrew’s Priory.

In addition to his wife of 37 years, Crosier is survived by his son, Stephen, and sister Carol Rodi of Atlanta.

Viewing will be at Nuuanu Memorial Park and Mortuary, 2233 Nuuanu Ave., from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, and a musical service will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa, 712 N. School St.

Gifts in memory of Carl Crosier may be made to St. Theresa’s, Lutheran Church of Honolulu and Early Music Hawaii, P.O. Box 632, Kailua-Kona, HI 96745.

Posted in Featured

Murray Turnbull: 1919-2014

Posted On September 1st, 2014 -

East-West Center founder devoted to education, art
By Michael Tsai

A gifted artist and educator, Murray Turnbull left a distinctive mark on the physical landscape of his adopted Hawaii home, in the myriad galleries that displayed his work, and in the lives of thousands of scholars who passed through the University of Hawaii and the East-West Center.

Turnbull died on Aug. 22 at age 95.

Perhaps best known as the founder of the East-West Center, Turnbull was a prolific painter and sculptor and a highly influential figure in the UH system, where his keen intellect and unconventional thinking helped to expand traditional notions of education.

“He felt that making education available and important, making people curious enough to explore their world, was the most important thing,” said Turnbull’s daughter Martha Turnbull. “He also thought that formal education sometimes got in the way of it. He identified very closely with UH and the other places where he worked, but he also felt that school should get out of the way when students wanted to paint or write or pursue other ways of expressing themselves.”

Turnbull was born in Sibley, Iowa, and earned an bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Nebraska. After serving in the Army Air Force in Guadalcanal and the Philippines during World War II, Turnbull returned and began a career in education, first at a high school in Montana and later at the University of Nebraska, the University of Denver (where he also earned a master’s degree) and Hamline University in Minnesota.

In 1954, Turnbull and his wife, Phyllis, relocated to Honolulu, where Turnbull found employment as a professor of art at UH. He would later serve as chairman of the Art Department (twice), acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and director of planning for the university.

It was in 1959, while serving as acting dean, that Turnbull first proposed the idea of an “international college” where people from around Asia and the Pacific could exchange ideas. The idea languished until congressional delegate from Hawaii Jack Burns successfully persuaded then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson, D-Texas, to publicly advocate for an international university in Hawaii. In response, the school’s faculty senate convened a special committee that included Turnbull to establish what would become the East-West Center.

“Murray Turnbull was the father of the concept of bringing the young people of the Asia Pacific region together,” said East-West Center President Charles Morrison. “The East-West Center was established because of him.”

Turnbull served briefly as the center’s acting director. In an oral history collected by the center in 2006, Turnbull described the original focus of the center:

“We did not seek students or candidates in business courses and that sort of thing, making money, how you do business and so on. We were much more interested in philosophical matters, in historical matters, in religious matters, in those things that had to do with the mind and the intellect.”

Turnbull’s vision for the center was in keeping with his personal beliefs about education and the development of mind and character.

As a student of art and as an artist, Turnbull was inexhaustible in his thirst for new insight.

In an unfinished autobiography, Turnbull noted, “I have spent more than the last 40 years striving to overcome, replace and go beyond the solid traditional training … which shaped my early expectations and intentions.”

Later, Turnbull wrote: ”Only with great effort did I come to see that life and art could not be imprisoned by logic, by a binding responsibility to objects out there, that it was more important to express things from the inside out, and that what was invisible was vastly more significant than imposed visual ‘truths.'”

Turnbull, who produced more than 7,000 pieces of art during his career, had work exhibited in various one-person shows across the country. Among the many familiar pieces Turnbull has contributed around town are the famous stained glass windows at Keller Hall on the Manoa campus, the four concrete sculpture walls on the UH Music Building and the large mural on the exterior wall of Kokua Market in Moiliili.

Duane Preble, an emeritus professor of art at UH and a former teaching assistant to Turnbull, said his friend and mentor was “a wise and thoughtful scholarly artist” who inspired great enthusiasm and loyalty from his students.

“He had a following of people who loved his classes,” Preble said. “Both young and old would come back to take his classes.”

Preble recalled Turnbull’s love of New Orleans-style jazz and how Turnbull, a self-taught trumpet, trombone and cornet player, would practice in the art auditorium when it was empty because he liked the acoustics. He also remembered the unexhibited wood sculptures — “humorous pieces” — that Turnbull kept around his garage.

“I asked him about them and he said they were to keep his taxes down,” Preble said, chuckling.

Indeed, Turnbull’s lofty accomplishments in academia and the art world belied his humble, unassuming nature and the simple, sincere way in which he lived his life, Martha Turnbull said.

“He was utterly incapable of telling a lie,” she said. “He told corny jokes. He never met a baby or a cat he didn’t like. And he was inordinately proud of his family. The only thing he valued more than his work was his wife and his family.”

Turnbull is survived by his wife, Phyllis; sons John and Clayton; daughters Martha and Sarah Roe; eight grandchildren; and great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Sept. 27 at the UH-Manoa Art Department Auditorium. Aloha wear is suggested.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Murray Turnbull’s name to: Friends of the Library of Hawaii, 690 Pohukaina St., Honolulu, HI 96813.

Artist Murray Turnbull with some recent work in his Manoa Valley studio. (Photo courtesy GEORGE F. LEE)

Artist Murray Turnbull with some recent work in his Manoa Valley studio. (Photo courtesy GEORGE F. LEE)

Posted in Featured


Posted On August 31st, 2014 -

‘Bull of Kalihi’ inspired many both on and off football fields

Dave Reardon /

“The Bull of Kalihi” was much more than that, and Edward “Skippa” Diaz’s grip on life and influence on others went way beyond his famous vicelike handshake.31-b1-diaz-coverthumb

Diaz, a larger-than-life figure in Hawaii sports since the early 1960s as a football player and then coach at several schools — most notably his alma mater, Farrington — died Saturday a few minutes after midnight at his home in Aiea.

He was 70.

Diaz seemed to defy mortality even after he was diagnosed with stage 4 gastric adenocarcinoma four years ago. Although he’d lost a lot of weight and said he had good days and bad days, Diaz made many public appearances — always cheerful, still making hands sore and hearts warm.

“Everybody talks about the handshake,” said Randall Okimoto, who played for Diaz and followed him as the Governors coach. “But I will always remember the bear hugs. For me, the biggest thing was the love he had for us. He is one of the biggest influences on my life.”

Mary Diaz, Skippa’s wife of 37 years, said her husband maintained a positive attitude and remained active until a “sharp decline” in his condition in April.

He was undergoing experimental treatment, Mary Diaz said.

“They were good years,” she said. “But finally so many treatments and so much chemo took its toll.”

Friends and family knew the day would come, but it was still a shock because Diaz always seemed indestructible.

“He kept fighting it up to the last moment, but you could tell it was getting to him,” said Agenhart Ellis, the athletic director at Farrington who hired Diaz to be the Governors head coach in 1982.

Including 17 years at Farrington and two at Waialua, Diaz’s head-coaching record was 108-90-5. The apex was 1990, when he guided the Governors to a Prep Bowl appearance.

But Diaz’s impact went way beyond the playing field.

“One of his famous sayings was ‘The sun will rise tomorrow’ after a loss,” Okimoto said. “He taught us how to handle adversity. It helped that he came from where we did, he was a poor kid from the housing like us. He let us know him as a human being.”

When Tony Ah Yat first met his future lifelong friend, it was in the trenches of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu in 1961. Ah Yat played center for Kamehameha and Diaz nose tackle for Farrington.

“He was hard to block, to say the least,” Ah Yat said. “He had a unique reputation. Word got around fast. Everybody knew each other and word travels fast. He was intense and tough, hard-nosed. He’d punish you before he made the tackle.”

They became close when Ah Yat was coaching in Portland, Ore., after completing his college career at Linfield and Diaz was at Oregon State.

“We would get together, and that’s when I found out how smart he was,” Ah Yat said. “At first we all looked at him as one-dimensional, a tough guy. But then we were sitting down talking and he told me he was a double-major at Oregon State, history and business.”

He eventually earned a master’s degree.

Diaz was nearly as famous for his vocabulary as he was for his handshake. “Indubitably” was his favorite word.

“I certainly must say he was an intellectual, with a photographic memory,” Mary Diaz said. “He always beat me at Scrabble. I got used to losing.

“He was also very tenderhearted. He cried at movies. Cartoon movies.”

Diaz was an All Pac-8 defensive tackle at Oregon State and played in the CFL before returning to Hawaii to coach and teach at Washington Intermediate, Waialua, Kalani, Mililani and Farrington.

When Al Espinda was set to retire as Farrington head coach, Ellis knew who he wanted. The guy he said “used to knock me out (in high school games),” his Hula Bowl teammate.

“The first thing I did was call him. I said, ‘Skip, you gotta come now, the teaching position is open.’ He was happy at Mililani, and I didn’t want to steal (John Kauinana’s) guy, but Skip was the right guy for our kids in our school and our community. Our kids, you let ’em loose, they can buck-a-loose. You need someone entrenched in the community.”

Diaz also coached track and field at Farrington.

“He loved track,” Ellis said. “It was his release, and another way he could help kids.”

Diaz retired from coaching and teaching in 1999 but continued to be influential as deputy director of Honolulu City and County Parks and Recreation and on the Aloha Stadium Authority.

Friends threw a surprise 70th birthday party for him in February.

Ah Yat said he used to tease his friend about his nickname.

“Skip, how are you The Bull of Kalihi, but you’re from Palama?”

Ah Yat paused.

“He was just The Bull.”

In addition to his wife, Diaz is survived by his sons Gerald Krause and James Akau Diaz; daughter Kathleen Starks; 14 grandchildren; one great-grandchild; sisters Marion Kahale, Elizabeth Charles, Leetha Faleafine and Harriet Martinez; and many nieces and nephews.

Services are pending.

Posted in Featured

ZANE SCHLEMMER / 1924-2013

Posted On August 31st, 2014 -

Kaneohe resident honored for D-Day actions in France

Timothy Hurley /

Zane Schlemmer was honored time and again for his heroic World War II service with the 101st Airborne Division, having jumped on D-Day into France and wounded in the weeks following June 6, 1944.31-B4-schlemmer-CTY-Paratrooper

But Schlemmer, who died last summer at age 88, not only put his life on the line for his country but later devoted thousands of hours volunteering on behalf of veterans and his community in Kaneohe.

“He really gave as much as he could,” said his son Brett Schlemmer.

A memorial service for the decorated soldier, former land developer and community volunteer was held last week at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.

In 1977, the French community of Picauville, Normandy, placed a bronze plaque in the field where Schlemmer landed on D-Day and named an adjacent road Rue Zane Schlemmer in his honor.

In 2009, President Barack Obama mentioned Schlemmer in a speech in Normandy commemorating the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Schlemmer, the president said, “parachuted into a dark marsh, far from his objective and his men. Lost and alone, he still managed to fight his way through the gunfire and help liberate the town in which he landed.”

Later that day then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy pinned a French Legion of Honor medal to Schlemmer’s chest.

The 19-year-old sergeant was wounded by friendly fire less than a month after parachuting behind enemy lines, during a battle near Le Haye de Puits. He was wounded again in the Battle of the Bulge.

With the occupation troops in Frankfurt, Germany, he served in an honor guard for Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was awarded the Bronze Star, among many other medals.

Brett Schlemmer said his dad didn’t speak of the war for many years. Then in 1974 the veteran made his first trip back to Normandy.

“It was the best therapy I could have gotten. The people we liberated were so grateful,” Schlemmer told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2004.

At least two memorial services were held for Schlemmer in France after his death, his son said.

After the war Schlemmer was recalled during the Korean War and held the position of sergeant major of the Ordnance Corps Research and Development Division, Guided Missile School, at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md.

Schlemmer was born in Canton, Ohio, in 1924. After the war he graduated from Northwestern University and worked a lengthy property development career in California and Oahu.

A longtime resident of Kaneohe, Schlemmer for many years embarked on daily walks picking up litter. Also for years he volunteered at Tripler Army Medical Center and at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe.

During the years he volunteered at the cemetery, Schlemmer put in nearly a full day, five days a week, working customer service and filling out paperwork for the Veterans Administration.

“I guess you could say it kept him alive. It gave him a purpose in life,” said cemetery operations manager Willie Hirokane.

Hirokane said he used to relish hearing Schlemmer’s war stories.

“It was fascinating listening to him,” he said. “These were first-hand stories. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Hirokane said that in a final act of loyalty to the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery, Schlemmer asked those who attended his funeral to consider donating to the Kaneohe memorial park in lieu of flowers.

In addition to his son Brett, Schlemmer is survived by another son, Douglas Schlemmer, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Posted in Featured

BOB HERKES / 1931 – 2014

Posted On August 22nd, 2014 -

Isle politician showed ‘fierce dedication’ to Hawaii island

By Leila Fujimori /

Hawaii island politician Bob Herkes served 23 years in public office, advocating for the people he represented, and was a retired hotel executive who worked 40 years in the hospitality industry. He died at Hilo Medical Center on Thursday at age 83.23-B10--obit-mug-Herkes

“Hawaii has lost a dedicated and passionate public servant who championed protecting consumer rights during his 18 years in the state House of Representatives,” House Speaker Joe Souki said.

Herkes, who grew up in Hilo, served as county councilman from 1984-88, state senator in 1988, and state representative from 1992-2000 and from 2002-2012, primarily representing the Puna and Kona districts.

The Volcano resident chose to forego re-election to the state House seat representing District 5 (Mountain View to Kealakekua) to make an unsuccessful bid for the Senate in 2012.

He was proud of legislation that reduced insurance rates and brought relief for homeowners facing foreclosure.

Herkes, with Sen. Rosalyn Baker, was a chief architect of the 2011 foreclosure law, Act 48, which gives qualified owner-occupants of Hawaii homes the option of having a dispute-resolution professional assist with foreclosure mitigation in front of a lender representative before a foreclosure sale can proceed.

He is credited with creating legislation to eliminate telephone party lines on Hawaii island, funding for the Ocean View well, bringing the first medical van to serve the Kau District and establishing a disaster shelter in Kau.

Herkes was also responsible for relocating the Ironman Triathlon to Kona from Oahu and for founding the Hawaii Hospital Hall of Fame.

Longtime friend and retired Big Island Visitors Bureau Executive Director Ken “Bones” Johnston said he was surprised Herkes went into politics, but despite their different party alliances, he served as Herkes’ campaign manager.

“I knew his integrity and his honesty, and it didn’t matter to me he was a Democrat and I was a Republican,” he said. “It was that kind of friendship.

“He looked after his community, which was large but small in numbers, like Volcano, Naalehu, Pahala and rural areas of the Big Island. He was very concerned about what happened with the hospital, the phone service and cable service,” Johnston said, adding that it was “always for the good of the community he served.”

“He was very much in favor of tourism and did everything he could to support tourism,” Johnston said.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Herkes’ “long career in public service brought about countless benefits for Hawaii island, including his integral role in incorporating the appropriation for the first FEMA-certified shelter in Kau, providing a drinking water system for Ocean View, and establishing a mobile medical van to bring basic medical services to rural areas.”

“His fierce dedication to the people of the Big Island and our entire state will be remembered,” he said.

Born in Iloilo City in the Philippines and raised in Hilo, Herkes was a third-generation Hawaii island resident.

Herkes was a retired hospitality industry executive, getting his start in 1951 with Coconut Island Resort, the Cannon Club (1951-53), the Naniloa Hotel, Kona Inn and Kona Marlin Club (1953-56).

He served as vice president for Inter-Island Resorts from 1959-1974, and the company saw expansion under his oversight including the Maui Surf, Kona Surf and Naniloa Surf, Johnston said. He was general manager for Kona Surf Hotel (1979-86).

He is survived by wife Jo-Anna; sons Bobby, Kenny and Doug; brother John; sister Jana Herkes; and granddaughter Sara.

Visitation will be from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Sept. 27 at Dodo Mortuary in Hilo. Services will be held at 11 a.m.

Posted in Featured


Posted On August 12th, 2014 -

Franciscan sister, Kauai native served decades as educator

Pat Gee /

Sister Florence Remata, minister of the Hawaii-Southwest region of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, died Aug. 3 at the Queen’s Medical Center after a brief illness and 57 years of service to the Roman Catholic Church. She was 75.

According to the Hawaii Catholic Herald, Remata was born in Waimea, Kauai, the sixth of 12 children of Crisanto and Vicente Omakanim Remata. She graduated from Saint Francis Convent School on Oahu and joined the Sisters of St. Francis in 1956.13-B8-remata-obit-mug2

After taking her final vows in 1961, she chose St. Therese of Lisieux, “the Little Flower,” as her patron saint in honor of her home parish of St. Theresa in Kekaha, Kauai, where “the sisters taught me how to use the fork to eat, how to dance and all the social graces so that I wouldn’t be a wallflower,” she told the Catholic Herald in a 2011 interview.

Remata graduated from Chaminade College in Honolulu and Santa Clara University.

She taught at St. Peter School in Riverside, N.J.; St. Joseph School in Hilo, where she also was vice principal; and Our Lady of Good Counsel School in Pearl City. She was director of religious education at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Pearl City and at St. Patrick in Chittenango, N.Y.

Remata returned to Kauai to care for her mother in 1995. For the next 17 years she served at Immaculate Conception Church in Lihue as director of religious education and as pastoral associate. She was also the island’s liaison for the Catholic Diocese’s Department of Religious Education.

The Catholic Herald said she was the first and last Franciscan sister to be assigned to Kauai.

Remata told the Hawaii Catholic Herald at the time, “The people of Kauai are church-oriented and value priests and (the) religious.” Some nicknamed her “The Mayor of Kauai” for her friendliness and outreach.

Remata is survived by eight brothers: David, Edward, Alfredo and Richard Remata, all of Kauai; Stanley Remata of Pearl City; and Wilfred, Lawrence and Patrick Remata of California; and three sisters: Mildred Olores, Elizabeth Aquino and Vivian Nonaka, all of Kauai. She had 30 nephews and nieces, 60 grandnephews and grandnieces, and 11 great-grandnephews and great-grandnieces.

Her survivors also include her fellow Franciscan sisters and their associates.

Remata’s wake and funeral services are Monday at St. Pius X Church in Manoa. Visitation is 3:30 to 4:45 p.m.; the funeral Mass is at 5 p.m., followed by a reception in the parish hall.

Burial is at 9 a.m. the next day at Diamond Head Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the retirement fund of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, St. Francis Convent, 2715 Pamoa Road, Honolulu 96822-1885.

Posted in Featured

Alan Kang: 1944-2014

Posted On August 11th, 2014 -

‘Unsung hero’ helped create Wahine volleyball
By Cindy Luis

Before the Hawaii women’s volleyball program became one of the imposing towers on the sport’s intercollegiate skyline, it needed to have a solid foundation. That cornerstone was laid by Alan Kang, who took a fledgling varsity program birthed in the same year as Title IX and established a tradition that flourishes today.

It was Kang, working in the intramural program at UH, who recruited players for the inaugural varsity team during the late spring of 1972. That the “Wahines,” as they were called back then, won the 1973 A Division Championship, then the Open Division the next spring hinted at the greatness to come.

Kang, who led Hawaii to a 9-1 mark and a second-place finish at the 1974 AIAW national championship, died Aug. 4 in Detroit, where he was living with his son, Barry, for the past two months. He was 70.

The man who replaced Kang in 1975 was Dave Shoji, who learned of Kang’s passing after Monday morning’s practice. Now in his 40th season, Shoji remembered Kang as a friend, a former assistant and someone who was passionate about the sport.

“He was here before I was, and came back to help me, volunteering his time,” Shoji said of Kang, the assistant on Shoji’s first national championship team in 1979. “It’s sad to hear.”

UH associate athletic director Marilyn Moniz-Kaho’ohanohano was recruited by Kang prior to her 1972 graduation from Kaimuki High. The Bulldogs had won the OIA championship and several players became the core of the first program that summer.

“He probably got paid peanuts,” said Moniz-Kaho‘ohanohano, UH’s first female four-year varsity letter-winner. “He was very dedicated and disciplined, cared a lot about his players. That first team had the best players in Hawaii at the time.

“I truly appreciate all he did. We were treading new ground back then, traveling for the (USVBA) nationals. We never felt there was nothing we couldn’t do. That’s where it all started.”

The legacy continues beyond the Rainbow Wahine program. Kang’s late wife, Ann, played for Hawaii and went on to become the girls volleyball coach at ‘Iolani, winning the school’s first title in that sport in 2001. “Iolani’s nationally recognized preseason tournament has been renamed the Ann Kang Invitational.

Twins Barry and Marci, 2006 ‘Iolani graduates, knew what their parents had done but “that wasn’t what was important to them,” said Barry, doctor of emergency medicine at Detroit Receiving Hospital. “They both wanted us to pursue our dreams.”

Ann Goldenson Kang died in 2003 after a long battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Marci Kang, a former all-region soccer player at Occidental, is finishing her doctorate in chemistry at Rice.

“I worked very closely with Alan in the beginning of the Rainbow Wahine volleyball (program),” said Chris McLachlin, retired Punahou volleyball and basketball coach and current sportscaster for UH volleyball. “We trained the girls for the USVBA season and then he coached that first team.

“He had great volleyball knowledge. He wanted to be the best coach he could be. Clearly he is an unsung hero and hasn’t been given enough credit for the birth of the program. His dream was to make it bigger and better every year. And that’s what it has become.”

Alan Hong Ik Kang was born in Honolulu on March 23, 1944. He graduated from Mid-Pacific Institute and attended Oregon State before finishing his degree at Hawaii. He worked in several fields, including as an insurance salesman.

Kang is survived by brother, Felix; sister, Becky; and niece, Leila.

A memorial service will be held at ‘Iolani’s St. Alban’s Chapel on Aug. 24 at 1 p.m. Other arrangements are pending.

Alan Kang: Recruited players from intramurals  to help form the inaugural varsity team (CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 1999)

Alan Kang: Recruited players from intramurals to help form the inaugural varsity team (CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 1999)

Posted in Featured

ALOHA DALIRE / 1950-2014

Posted On August 6th, 2014 -

Kumu hula won first Merrie Monarch title

Nina Wu /

Beloved kumu hula Aloha Dalire died early Wednesday at her home in Kaneohe. She was 64.07-B4-aloha-dalire-obit

Dalire, who holds the title as the Merrie Monarch Festival’s first Miss Hula (later known as Miss Aloha Hula) in 1971, was a well-respected kumu and mentor for many in the hula community. Her name was then Aloha Wong.

Born June 22, 1950, in Honolulu and raised in Kaneohe, Dalire began her hula studies at age 3 under the late hula master George Na’ope.
Her award-winning halau, Keolalaulani Halau ‘Olapa o Laka, was founded by her mother, Mary Keolalaulani McCabe Wong, in 1963.
Dalire was dedicated to the Merrie Monarch Festival, bringing her halau to the competition in Hilo for more than 40 years, including this year, often placing first in the women’s kahiko and auana categories.

“She was always so proud to be at Merrie Monarch,” said festival director Luana Kawelu. “And it was such an honor for her to be the first Miss Hula. She used to tell us all, ‘That’s why it’s named Miss Aloha Hula now.'”

Dalire’s three daughters, Kapualokeokalaniakea, Kau’imaiokalaniakea and Keolalaulani, would also follow in her footsteps, winning the Miss Aloha Hula titles in 1991, 1992 and 1999, respectively.

At the festival’s celebration of its 50th year in 2013, Dalire gave a special performance, along with her daughters and several generations of Miss Aloha Hulas.

“When I look back at the 50th year, when she came out as the first Miss Hula and all her daughters came out, followed by all the winners of the Miss Aloha Hula contest, that was her time to shine,” Kawelu said.

“Through her daughters, her legacy will live. She will be sorely missed by each and every one of us, the kumu, the halau, the musicians. All of us will miss her, but she will be part of us.”

The Dalire daughters issued a statement through spokeswoman Tracy Larrua saying they were saddened by the death of their mother, and requested privacy.

Last year, Dalire danced to the verses of “Ka Makani Ka’ili Aloha,” reliving the performance that won her the Miss Hula title in 1971 for a Honolulu Star-Advertiser video (

Dalire’s life, as well as her three daughters’ journeys to the title of Miss Aloha Hula, was documented in a film, “The Light in the Lady’s Eyes.” The film, by Ha Enterprises, a partnership between Kaui Dalire and singer Mailani Makainai, aired on KFVE before last year’s Merrie Monarch Festival.

“Hula is in my blood,” she told the Star-Advertiser that year. “It’s what keeps me alive and keeps me going.”

Dalire was still very active in hula this year, and traveled abroad often with halau from Hilo, California and Japan. She said in an earlier interview that she would often tell her students, “Hula is the expression of one’s innermost feelings.”

Kumu hula Lani-Girl Kaleiki-AhLo of ‘Ilima Hula Studio in Waimanalo called Dalire her biggest cheerleader in times of need.
The family has ties because Dalire had studied hula under Kaleiki-AhLo’s mother, Louise, and aunt Luka, in her early years.

“Any time I needed help with hula or I had a question about something, I could randomly call her,” she said. “She would share her mana’o (thoughts) with me, and tell me, ‘You’d better keep teaching hula. Your mom and auntie are so proud of you.'”

Kaleiki-AhLo, who spent time in prison in the late ’90s for drug dealing, remembers that while she was on probation Dalire gave her the first opportunity to dance hula again.

“She danced from her heart,” Kaleiki-AhLo said. “When she danced, you could feel the love inside and see the joy on her face that radiated from inside.”

Dalire is survived by her three daughters, Kapua Dalire-Moe, Kaui Dalire, Keola Dalire and grandchildren. Information on funeral services is still pending.

Posted in Featured

Joel Kennedy: 1944-2014

Posted On August 1st, 2014 -

Strong ethics led isle communicator
By Rosemarie Bernardo

A consummate public relations professional, Joel B. Kennedy took pride representing companies and organizations.

He had high standards for his career, said his wife of 51 years, Ann Kennedy, adding he had strong ethics and was a perfectionist.

Kennedy, of Hawi, died June 23. He was 69.

Born in Honolulu to Episcopal Bishop Harry and Katharine Kennedy, he grew up in Nuu­anu and Kahala with his four brothers. He attended ‘Iolani School and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Colo­rado College. Thereafter he was drafted into the Army and served in the Vietnam War before returning to Hawaii.

Following his military service, Kennedy delved into public relations with a career in corporate communications that spanned more than 30 years.

At GTE Hawaiian Tel, Kennedy started as a public information assistant and later was promoted to vice president of public affairs. He spent 18 years with the company.

In 1991 Kennedy became vice president of corporate communications for the Queen’s Health Systems and served in the post for 11 years. From 2004 to 2005 he served as communications director for the state House of Representatives.

State Rep. and former House Speaker Calvin Say described Kennedy as a true professional in his dealings with the media and members of the House. “His responses to the media were direct, simple and to the point. He was an excellent communicator and respected by the legislators who sought his counsel and advice,” Say said in an emailed statement.

His wife said Kennedy also was an attentive father to their two children. “He had a lot of pride in what he did and a lot of love and pride for his family.”

Kennedy was involved in multiple professional and nonprofit organizations such as the Hawaiian Humane Society, where he served on the board.

In 2005 he and his wife retired to Hawi on Hawaii island, where he revived The Kohala Mountain News and served as its managing editor. He also initiated fundraising efforts to help supply the North Kohala Public Library with books and office equipment.

Kennedy’s wife said he will be best remembered for his strong values. He was genuine and humble with a great sense of humor, she said.

Kennedy is also survived by brothers Bruce, David and Mark (his fraternal twin); children Carole Kennedy Alvarado and Scott Kennedy; son-in-law Billy Alvarado; grandchildren Malia and Lucas Alvarado; and his dog Beau.

A private family memorial service was held for Kennedy. His ashes were scattered in waters off Kahala near his childhood home.

Those who want to make a donation in Kennedy’s memory may do so to the Hawaiian Humane Society or PBS Hawaii.

Joel B. Kennedy: The public relations pro also revived a  Big Island newspaper (COURTESY KENNEDY FAMILY)

Joel B. Kennedy: The public relations pro also revived a Big Island newspaper (COURTESY KENNEDY FAMILY)

Posted in Featured

JAMES SHIGETA / 1929 – 2014

Posted On July 29th, 2014 -

Shigeta started out as a singer and founded a UH scholarship

By John Berger /

Island-born actor James Shigeta leaves a legacy in Hawaii.30-B4-obits-Shigeta-obit-pic

Shigeta briefly attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, as well as the University of Southern California and New York University, but his studies were interrupted when he joined the Marines during the Korean War. He did, however, help many others pursue their educational

goals by establishing the James Shigeta Scholarship in Asian Studies at UH.

In a 2007 interview with Sukhdev Sandhu during a film festival in his honor sponsored by NYU’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute, the actor called the scholarship fund one of the things he was most proud of.

Shigeta explained that he was helped by various scholarships while in school, and “I thought when I did amass a little bit of money, I decided to pay back a little bit.”

Masami Hironaka, 84, of Wailea, Maui, was in an a cappella choir with Shigeta when both were at UH.

“He had a beautiful baritone voice. I was surprised he became an actor. He wasn’t the show-off type. Jimmy was the shy type,” said Hironaka, a longtime educator who started children’s choir and ukulele groups in Maui schools and offered ukulele lessons.

Shigeta began his show business career as a singer in Hawaii, joining with singer-pianist Charles K.L. Davis to perform as a cabaret act, Guy Brion (Shigeta) and Charles Duran (Davis), in 1951.

Local singer and actor Jimmy Borges remembers Shigeta as the guy who “got me into Vegas” in 1959.

“Jimmy (Shigeta)was starring in show called ‘Holiday in Japan,’ which was produced by Shirley MacLaine and her husband, Steve Parker, and he left to finish ‘Walk Like a Dragon,’ his second movie, and I got the job,” Borges said. “I thought I was going to be there for six weeks. I was there for two years.”

Borges and Shigeta finally met on the set of “The Islander,” a 1978 TV movie starring Dennis Weaver.

“We got along very well,” Borges said. “We talked about (my getting ‘Holiday in Japan’), but we were looking back at it from a long, long way back.”

One of Shigeta’s best assets was a “great voice,” Borges said.

“He spoke so eloquently and he had this ‘This is the Voice of America’ voice. His stature, his presence, was all built around his voice. Jimmy became what his voice was.”

Nancy Kwan, who starred opposite Shigeta in the 1961 film musical “Flower Drum Song,” and on stage in 2004 in “Love Letters” in Los Angeles, described him as “a very lovely man, great to work with. We were all very proud of (the movie).

“It’s a fun film, and James was a big part of it.”

Posted in Featured

STEVE OZARK / 1950-2013

Posted On July 26th, 2014 -

By John Berger /

Steve Ozark, Hawaii’s “caterer to the stars” for more than 30 years, died July 24 in Nashville. He was 63.27-b4-steve-ozark-mug

His former wife, Jan Brenner, said Ozark learned in May that he had pancreatic cancer. He decided to stay in Nashville, where he had been living part time as a caregiver for country and pop music legend Glen Campbell, a longtime friend. Ozark notified her that he was in a Nashville area hospice less than week before his death, she said.

“He was a very private man,” Brenner said.

The couple divorced in 2002 but remained friends.

Brenner described Ozark as a man who “lived life to the fullest” and who enjoyed his leisure time sailing or at his home on a hillside overlooking Kaneohe Bay.

“Larger than life, that was Steve,” she said. “He loved taking care of people and he loved cooking, whether it was ‘Caterer to the Stars’ for the Michael Jacksons of the world or for the River of Life Mission.”

Hawaii concert promoter Tom Moffatt recalled Ozark as “a dear friend and a good person.” Moffatt said he was getting calls from Elton John, Jimmy Buffett and other A-list entertainers who said they considered Ozark as “part of their family.”

Moffatt’s working relationship with Ozark went back more than 30 years to when Ozark had a hole-in-the-wall fast-food place called the Meat Bun in an alley across from Ala Moana Center.

“I got a call from an artist who wanted a couple of sandwiches backstage. This was before (concert) catering really existed here. I called Steve and said ‘Why don’t you handle this?’ He did, and that’s how it started.”

Donna Bebber, executive director of the Hawaii Pops, recalled Ozark as a man who thought of others first.

“I worked on a major project with Steve years ago. After the event was pau, we were all exhausted. The next day, Steve unexpectedly showed up at my office with lunch he prepared for me and my assistant. It was one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten. The best part was just the thoughtfulness from Steve. He was as exhausted as we were, but he took the time to prepare the lunch and deliver it to us personally.”

Event producer Ron Gibson remembered Ozark’s ability as a concert caterer to “satisfy the biggest names in the business — from Santana to Bob Dylan to Neil Diamond to Mick Fleetwood. He had a rapport with all of them. I never had a complaint.”

Ozark was born in Los Angeles. He got into show business working as a crew member on “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,” a television variety show that ran from 1969 to 1972. It was a start of a lifelong friendship.

Ozark’s television experience lead to jobs in Hawaii as lighting director for entertainers John Rowles and Dick Jensen but food became his calling.

In the mid-1970s he opened the Meat Bun. A friendship with KKUA disc jockey Kamasami Kong inspired a speciality hamburger he dubbed the Kong Burger.

Robin Mann, another friend from Ozark’s Meat Bun days, described them as times that “filled our memory books.” Mann said Ozark never forgot the people who helped him grow from the Meat Bun to “caterer to the stars.”

“He was a caring, and thoughtful man who valued lifetime friendships, and all of the people who helped him along the way. Steve demonstrated his gratitude by helping others achieve their potentials and giving young people who were interested opportunities in culinary pursuits. He spoke to me often to help some of his young employees. He sincerely wanted them to achieve.”

Ozark is survived by a younger brother, Leon, and two sisters, Ellen and Nadine.

A funeral will be held Tuesday in Los Angeles. Plans for a celebration of life in Honolulu are pending.

Posted in Featured

TEDDI MEDINA / 1926-2014

Posted On July 26th, 2014 -

DJ and journalist paved way for women in media

By Timothy Hurley /

27-b4-teddi-medina-mug2Teddi Medina was a trailblazer and hard-charging Filipina spark plug who excelled in Hawaii radio and other media in an era when few women did.

“She was a tour de force,” John Noland said of his mother, who died July 17 at Pali Momi Medical Center at the age of 88.
Born in 1926, she was the middle of nine children to immigrant Filipino parents at Schofield Barracks, where her father played clarinet in the Army band. She was 15 when she watched from the roof of her house as Japanese planes attacked Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941.

Medina would go on to become a nightclub singer in San Francisco and Hawaii in the 1950s, appearing at such Honolulu venues as the Queen’s Surf and Lau Yee Chai’s.

“She was a wonderful singer and lovely entertainer,” said vocalist Jimmy Borges, who knew Medina when they both sang at Forbidden City nightclub in San Francisco. “She was a very kind person. She always had that aloha.”

Even as she was performing in Honolulu, she launched her next career, becoming Hawaii’s first federally licensed female disc jockey in 1952 at a time when you still needed a Federal Communications Commission license to operate radio equipment.

Known for interviewing celebrities and politicians and starting each show with the line, “Are you ready for Teddi?” she worked on and off at a variety of radio stations on Oahu and Maui until the 1980s.

Her first job was at KIKI in Honolulu.

“It was morning DJ,” she told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2004. “Imagine this: I’m singing at night. I get off at about 2 o’clock, go home and sleep for about two or three hours, run down to the station at 5 so I can open at 6.

“My mother always said to me, ‘Some day you’re going to pay for this,’” she said, laughing.

Medina didn’t stop at radio. She worked in public relations and as a journalist, becoming editor of both the Filipino Herald of Hawaii and later the San Francisco Banner in the late ’70s.

She also was a freelance writer in both California and Hawaii, with her stories appearing in both the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the Honolulu Advertiser.

Broadcast personality Emme Tomimbang recalled that she looked up to Medina at a time when there were few Filipina role models in the media. She called Medina a mentor who never failed to offer words of encouragement.

“I was privileged to have her cheering me on,” said Tomimbang, who also started in radio. “She inspired me to continue to do what I was doing.”

Medina spent much of her later years writing a book about what she called the golden era of Hawaii’s media, spanning the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. She interviewed more than 200 people, including the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, Star-Bulletin Editor Bud Smyser, Advertiser Editor George Chaplin and other media figures such as Bob Sevey, Chuck Turner, Tim Tindall, Eddie Sherman and Cobey Black.

But while she finished the research and wrote 700 pages, a stroke and illness prevented her from completing the editing process, said Noland, son of Medina’s first husband, Gorman Noland, a Realtor who had served in the Territorial Legislature.

John Noland, a veteran of Honolulu television and radio himself, said his siblings have vowed to see the project through to publication.

Services will be private.

Posted in Featured


Posted On July 14th, 2014 -

Veteran served amid history on USS Missouri14-b1-Lassen-DCX-ARCHIVE

Rosemarie Bernardo /

He say the last years of World War II from the decks of the battleship USS Missouri, a journey that included a kami­kaze attack and climaxed with the Japa­nese surrender in 1945.

One of the warship’s original crewmen or “plank owners,” Walter John Lassen, a chief gunner’s mate, died July 5 at the Queen’s Medical Center. He was 96.

The Waikiki resident is believed to have been the last Missouri plank owner living in Hawaii, said his son, Christian Riese Lassen.

Family members described Lassen as quick-witted and cool under pressure.

“He was a real inspiration to me on how to behave in situations that could be highly stressful,” said his son.

Lassen also was adventurous, traveling to Polynesia and Alaska. In his earlier years he worked as a commercial fisherman and was involved in masonry.

“He was a really, really amazing person,” his son said.

Born and raised in Marin County, Calif., Lassen joined the Navy shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

He underwent gunnery training at the Naval Academy and was in charge of the anti-aircraft guns aboard the USS Missouri, which was launched in January 1944. On April 11, 1945, during the Battle of Oki­nawa, a kami­kaze aircraft struck the side of the ship.


Crew members recovered the body of the pilot, and the ship’s captain organized a burial at sea the following day, according to the USS Missouri Memorial Association website.

Lassen was part of the burial detail.

“There’s a code of ethics where we honor each other,” he recalled in a April 2001 Hono­lulu Advertiser story.

On Sept. 2, 1945, Lassen was aboard the battleship in Tokyo Bay when Japan formally surrendered.

He was not far from the table where Japa­nese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shi­ge­mi­tsu and Army Gen. Yoshi­jiro Umezu signed documents ending World War II, said his son. Gen. Doug­las MacArthur was among the leaders of the Allied forces at the surrender ceremony.

Following his service in the Navy, Lassen owned a construction business in Cali­for­nia. He later moved to Maui and eventually Oahu.

Family members said Lassen will be best remembered for his smile, wit and charm.

“He just always had a happy spirit,” said stepdaughter Steph­a­nie Capllonch.

In addition to his son and Capllonch, Lassen is survived by wife Dolores Lassen, daughter Diane Winter-Lassen, stepdaughter Mela­nie Gambrell, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday at Valley of the Temples Memorial Park Chapel in Kane­ohe. Visitation will start at noon with the service to follow at 1 p.m.

Another memorial service will be held aboard the USS Missouri. The date is pending.</p>

Posted in Featured

MIKE SALTA / 1932 – 2014

Posted On July 8th, 2014 -

Merchant’s legacy endures at isle car dealerships

By Erika Engle / erika@staradvertiser.com09-b4-OBT-mike-salta

Mike Salta was more than just a name on a Pontiac dealership in Hawaii. He was an influential businessman whose effect on the local automotive industry lives on in people who run dealerships around the islands.

“He was respected by so many people, it’s an amazing legacy that he leaves behind,” said Alan Uyeoka, who went to work for Mike Salta Pontiac on Nimitz Highway in 1976, when he was 19 years old and eventually became a general manager. “Knowing him has been a real honor,” Uyeoka said.

Salta, born Michele “Mike” Fiore Saltalamacchia in Portland, Ore., in 1923, died Tuesday at his home in Indian Wells, Calif., at age 91.

“He lived a good, full life,” said Bob Johnson, vice president of M.F. Salta Co. Inc., based in California.

His auto franchises, numbering as many as 50 at one point, were sprinkled through California, Arizona, Utah and Hawaii, and included Cadillac, Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Acura, Jeep/Eagle, Buick, Isuzu, GMC Truck, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi and Lexus, in addition to Pontiac.

In the 1960s Salta expanded his auto dealership empire to Hawaii where for years familiar announcers, including George “Granny Goose” Groves, would do commercials for Mike Salta Pontiac.

Honda Windward owner and President Morrie Stoebner worked for Salta for 30 years, he said, joining the Salta company in 1960, when he, too, was 19 years old. “I ran the Salta store on Nimitz from 1974 to 1990,” Stoebner said. Stoebner was inspired by Salta to stay in the business and eventually open his own dealership.

Salta “was a great, terrific man with great morals. He always wanted to do business the right way, and family was really important to him,” said Uyeoka. Salta helped “countless general managers buy their stores and achieve greatness in life.”

Salta attended the University of Portland, and during World War II enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard as a pharmacist mate.

Between his savings and a loan from his father, he bought his first car, a Mercury, which he quickly sold. He used the proceeds to buy two more cars, which he sold, eventually leading him to open two used car lots. Salta opened his first new car dealership in Long Beach, Calif., in 1955 and built it into the largest Pontiac dealership in the country.

Under the holding company, he established other entities to provide services supporting the dealerships, including an advertising agency, insurance agency, tax and audit department and computer department.

Salta was among the early dealership owners to bring the Datsun (now Nissan) and Toyota makes to American customers.

Salta bought a condominium in Kahala in the 1980s and later sold it for a new place in Waikiki where he and his wife, Jan, would regularly vacation, Johnson said. “She still plans on keeping that condo in Hawaii,” he said.

In addition to his widow, Salta is survived by children Carol Martin, Christine Basile, Steven Salta and Gabriel Farao-Salta; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Services will be July 16 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Palm Desert, and the family asks that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the church or to the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Posted in Featured

Nancy Quinn: 1919-2014

Posted On July 3rd, 2014 -

Governor’s wife was devoted, loving first lady
She juggled official and domestic duties while caring for the couple’s seven kids

By Timothy Hurley

Nancy Quinn was a gracious first lady who skillfully juggled the demands of a large family with the challenging social schedule of the first elected governor of Hawaii.

“She never wanted the limelight,” recalled businessman Rick Humphreys, who lived with Gov. William Quinn’s family for a time as a child. “She was satisfied to be by his side. She was a very humble person.”

Nancy Quinn, who served as the last first lady of the territory of Hawaii from 1957 to 1959 and first first lady of the state from 1959 to 1962, died last week at the age of 95.

Nancy Ellen Witbeck was born in St. Louis in 1919 and married William Quinn there in 1942, moving to Hawaii in 1947 to work in a law office. Ten years later President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him governor of the territory.

The couple had seven children together — five before moving into the Washington Place governor’s mansion and two there.

According to the William Quinn biography “No Ordinary Man,” by Mary C. Kahulumana Richards, Nancy Quinn was a loving and insightful wife and mother, a gracious first lady who embraced a difficult official and domestic schedule in support of the governor.

“When Dad was governor, there was no budget for (both) a secretary and a nurse for the kids,” daughter Mary Kaiu­lani Quinn said.

Meanwhile there was a lot of high-profile entertaining to be done, she said, and the young first lady deftly negotiated this role at a time when she gave birth to two more children.

“We discovered it wasn’t easy raising small children there,” Nancy Quinn told the Hono­lulu Star-Bulletin in 1986.

But she was pretty firm about saving Sundays for the family.

Some have said that Quinn was the first in the islands to receive word about Hawaii’s statehood. On March 30, 1959, Time magazine wrote:

“Breakfasting with island legislative leaders at his official residence one morning last week, Hawaii’s last appointed Territorial Governor, William Quinn, was interrupted by his wife. ‘I thought you might want to see this radiogram,’ said Nancy Quinn. ‘It came a few minutes ago, and Cecily (aged 4) answered the door and opened the envelope. It could be important.’ It was; from President Dwight Eisenhower had come 1) notification that he had just signed the Hawaiian statehood bill, and 2) orders directing Quinn to proceed with appropriate plans for election of state and congressional officials.”

Humphreys, president and CEO of Hawaii Receivables Management and former head of Bank of America in Hawaii, said he’ll always remember Nancy Quinn as an extremely nice and friendly person who treated everyone the same.

“I never knew a person who didn’t like her,” he said. “She was so good to the working staff. They loved her. She never presented herself as anything but normal folk.”

After leaving public office, William Quinn went on to lead Dole Pineapple, then continue his career in law — and Nancy Quinn remained his devoted wife for 64 years, taking care of her husband when he wasn’t well later in life. The former governor died in 2006 at age 87.

Services will be held in September.

Nancy Quinn is survived by daughters Cecily Quinn Affleck and Mary Kaiulani Quinn; sons William Jr., Timothy, Christopher, Greg­ory and Stephen; eight grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Former Gov. William Quinn and his wife, Nancy, met and wed on the mainland before moving to Hawaii. The couple was married for 64 years, before William Quinn died in 2006. Nancy Quinn died last week at age 95. (Courtesy Keith Haugen / 2004)

Former Gov. William Quinn and his wife, Nancy, met and wed on the mainland before moving to Hawaii. The couple was married for 64 years, before William Quinn died in 2006. Nancy Quinn died last week at age 95. (Courtesy Keith Haugen / 2004)

Posted in Featured

Claude Horan: 1917-2014

Posted On June 28th, 2014 -

Isle ceramist, surfer filled with zest for life
By Steven Mark

Claude Horan, an artist who is considered “the father of ceramics” in Hawaii as well as a renowned waterman, died June 11 at his home in Kaha­luu. He was 96.

Horan, who established the ceramics and glass programs at the University of Hawaii at Manoa art department, left a legacy of artistic creation and education as well as a reputation as a larger-than-life personality with a fun-loving, nonconformist attitude.

“He was all about learning to do new things and take risk,” said David Behlke, director of Kapiolani Community College’s Koa Gallery, which honored Horan with a Koa Award in 2004. “He always had sort of an irascible sense of humor. The night we did his formal award dinner and presented him with a koa bowl … he wore a T-shirt imprinted with a tuxedo.”

James Jensen, curator of modern art at the Hono­lulu Museum of Art, called Horan “one of the last of the characters, because he had such an eccentric and ‘out there’ personality.”

“He was just very high-spirited,” Jensen said. “You don’t encounter that sort of personality too much anymore.”

Similarly, Horan’s creations often had a whimsical touch. “A masterful thrower” early in his career, according to Jensen, Horan eventually became known for his fancifully abstract female figurines, which began as cylindrically shaped vessels on the potter’s wheel and onto which Horan sculpted human features — faces, hands, bloated bellies or breasts.

“His protean spontaneity finds best expression in anthropomorphically manipulated wheel-thrown pots, in which he creates everything from earth goddess fertility figures and Wagnerian-proportioned divas to traditional Hawaiian and Japa­nese haniwa-inspired clay warriors,” said a Hono­lulu Advertiser review, written on the occasion of Horan’s Koa Award.

Horan’s work can be found throughout the islands, including sculptures at many public schools, as well as at galleries, private collections and museums throughout the world, including The Smithsonian Institution, which purchased one of his sculptures in 1962. His work is also featured in the book “Claude Horan,” published as a guide to a 2004 retrospective on his career at the Koa Gallery and The Contemporary Museum.

Horan was a native of Cali­for­nia who grew up surfing and swimming at Southern Cali­for­nia beaches. According to the book, he was so strong in the water that he was nicknamed “Duke Horano­moku” and earned an athletic scholarship to college, eventually playing water polo at San Jose State — a relatively quick drive away from the Cali­for­nia surf haven Santa Cruz.

Not wanting to study a subject involving books, he took art classes, finding his medium in clay. Studying art also allowed him to go on frequent surfing trips. He is honored in the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and was credited with naming the popular surf spot Steamer Lane.

Horan eventually received an advanced degree in art and had started a ceramics business in Cali­for­nia when he was invited to Hawaii to begin a ceramics program at UH. Years later he also established the glass department, which Jensen said is now one of the top programs within the art department.

Over his 30-year tenure at UH, Horan would have many students who would themselves become renowned artists, among them Toshiko Taka­ezu, Steve Correia and Harue McVay.

“Claude was valuable in that he would encourage you to figure out your way to do it, and then he would be there,” Behlke said. “That approach he maintained throughout his teaching career, but it made people dig a little deeper and find some original statement.”

With an eye toward supporting ceramists after they graduated, Horan also founded Ceramics Hawaii, a Kaka­ako business that served as a supply store and workshop for ceramists. It eventually was taken over by another former student, Isami Ene­moto.

Bob Flint, an artist on Maui, studied with Horan in the 1960s and 1970s and, like many former students, became friends with his mentor and would go sailing with Horan on his boat on Kane­ohe Bay. Horan was known for sailing the boat in some treacherous conditions.

“His message was to be as creative as possible and have a good time doing it, and just to go for it,” Flint said. “His zest for life was evident in his work with those wheel-thrown sculptures that he became so well known for.

“He was full of life and he did everything 100 percent.”

Horan is survived by his wife, Suzi.

Claude Horan: He encouraged people to be creative, says a former student. (Courtesy Francis Harr)

Claude Horan: He encouraged people to be creative, says a former student. (Courtesy Francis Harr)

Posted in Featured

GEORGE YUEN / 1920-2014

Posted On June 24th, 2014 -

Isle leader tough on health issues

By Michael Tsai /

As manager and chief engineer of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply and later state health director, George Yuen worked to keep health and safety at the forefront of public policy during a time of unprecedented growth in Hawaii.

Yuen died June 7 at the age of 94.

At a private service Sunday, friends and family remembered Yuen as a highly principled man unafraid of making unpopular decisions for the greater good.

Yuen grew up in Nuuanu and graduated from McKinley High School.

As a child, Yuen would accompany his father in delivering fruit to residents in the Nuuanu area. Among the regulars were the Cooke family, who befriended Yuen and helped direct him to the University of Michigan.

At Michigan, Yuen earned degrees in civil, structural and sanitary engineering. Yuen’s daughters said his abiding love for his alma mater was apparent even in his last days as he recorded the Wolverines’ football schedule to memory.

Yuen returned to Hawaii in 1947 and found work as an engineer for the Board of Water Supply. He moved steadily up the ranks, eventually becoming manager and chief engineer in 1969.

In 1973 Yuen left to become the director of the state Department of Health. Yuen found himself in the crossfire of a political battle when he tried to relocate Hansen’s disease patients from Hale Mohalu to Leahi Hospital due to unsafe conditions at Hale Mohalu.

Yuen abided by then-Gov. George Ariyoshi’s decision to cut off utilities and medical care to a group of Hale Mohalu residents who refused to leave the facility, drawing criticism from Mayor Frank Fasi, a challenger to Ariyoshi’s re-election.

Yuen’s children said his stance was based on his belief that the dilapidated facility was unfit for residents and could not be influenced by public perception.

Yuen was also at the helm during the heptachlor scare of 1982, when a pesticide used to protect pineapple crops was detected in locally produced milk products. Yuen acted quickly to order all such products removed from shelves, but the issue lingered for years as questions of government and private industry culpability were debated.

In the mid-1980s Yuen joined close friend John Mink (husband of the late U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink) in founding Mink and Yuen Inc., an engineering company that specialized in hydrology and hydroecological studies in the Pacific area.

In addition, Yuen served as trustee of the Choy Hee Yuen Estate and founded real estate company GALY Partners. He also served as president of the Lung Doo Benevolent Society, president of the United Chinese Society and junior and senior warden of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral.

Yuen is survived by his wife Eugenia; daughters Lenora Peters, Georgia Yamashita and Laura; and three grandchildren.

Posted in Featured

Eldon ‘Buzzy’ Sproat: 1937-2014

Posted On June 23rd, 2014 -

Molokai guideled visitors on mule rides to Kalaupapa
By Leila Fujimori

For 40 years Buzzy Sproat, wearing his signature black cowboy hat, led the mule rides down to the remote Kalau­papa peninsula on Molo­kai, regaling visitors with stories and whistling elaborate tunes.

What made him stand out was “his love for people,” said Roy Hor­ner, who with Sproat co-owned Kalau­papa Rare Adventure LLC, dba Kalau­papa Mule Tour. “He just loved to talk story and meet people from all over the world.”

Eldon Kaneakala Sproat died June 14 in Hono­lulu. He was 76.

Sproat was diagnosed May 9 with leukemia but had been in great shape, Hor­ner said.

“He still rode the mules down the park,” he said. “One week in April he rode down five days in a row. I said, ‘Buzzy, you don’t have to go down.’ He said, ‘I love it.'”

Sproat led mule-riding visitors down the switchbacks of the steep, 2.9-mile sea cliff trail into the former leprosy colony, and would often pinch-hit as the tour bus driver and guide at Kalau­papa National Historic Park.

“He was well liked here,” said Ron Giblin, acting superintendent for the park. “He was always willing to give a hand with the pali trail. He would be more than happy to bring down medication for people on the mule train.”

At the Kalaupapa settlement, Sproat would often get off his mule and into the driver’s seat of the patient-owned Damien Tours and act as tour guide when they were short-handed, Giblin said.

When one of the bridges went out on the trail, he was helpful in hauling supplies in, he said.

“The passing of Buzzy is a loss to the National Park Service as well as everyone who has been a part of the Kalau­papa Community for the past 40 years,” the park said in a statement. “Responsible for establishing the famous Molo­kai Mule Ride, Buzzy shared his lively stories and aloha-filled smile with tens of thousands of visitors.

“He never hesitated to save the day by muling up a resident in emergency situations, or delivering important supplies and medications on short notice. He supported this community in anyway he could. His knowledge of the trail, Kalau­papa and the history surrounding this special place is something that will be sorely missed by many. Our thoughts, prayers and aloha go out to his family and those whom he has touched.”

He encountered people of all ages and from all walks of life, and “it’s touching to read all the stories” on social media, said his daughter Brandi Sproat-Tilini.

“Someone in his 20s said, ‘Your dad was the only one that didn’t judge me even though he knew how knucklehead I was. … He was kind and welcomed me with open arms.’ It was kind of nice to hear.”

Uncle Buzzy left his mark not just on Kalau­papa, but all over Molo­kai, which he navigated in a white pickup. He will be missed at the coffee shop, the feed store and in downtown Hoo­le­hua.

“My dad was Mr. Aloha,” she said. “He was the guy that was always there. … Everybody’s going to miss him.”

Sproat was also a family man.

Sproat-Tilini, who lives in Arizona, said, “My younger sister always said she’s daddy’s girl, but my dad made every single one of us feel we were his favorite. That shows how special he made you feel.”

She’ll forever treasure the video clip of her dad singing a special birthday song to her.

Sproat’s grandfather, a mule skinner from Missouri, came to Hono­lulu in 1893 and ended up superintendent of irrigation flumes of Kohala Ditch Co. on Hawaii island. He did his work on muleback, and passed on the job and the mules to Sproat’s father, who passed them on to his brother.

Sproat, half-Hawaiian, half-Caucasian, was born in Hoo­le­hua, Molo­kai, but grew up on the Big Island in Kohala, attended Maka­pala School there, then Kame­ha­meha Schools on Oahu, and then finished his education at Kohala High School.

The youngest of seven, Sproat was “the whipping post” for his older siblings, with a strict father, and joined the Army in 1955 at 17 as an escape, his daughter said.

He served as a paratrooper with the 11th Airborne Division in Germany.

After the military he worked in a plywood mill and drove a garbage truck in Humboldt County, Calif., then returned to Hawaii and drove a semitrailer on Oahu.

In 1973 his dad called to say a rental car company owner had bought a bunch of mules with the idea of imitating the Grand Canyon trail rides and asked him to accompany him to check it out.

The California mule handlers were scared to go down the steep Kalau­papa Trail, so Sproat jumped on one and rode all the way down to the beach.

The owner made him an offer to run the mule rides, which he accepted.

In 1993 Sproat approached Hor­ner, an insurance agent, to take over the mule ride business. They formed a company together.

Horner said, “I just marvel at how a person can enjoy working and whistling,” and “how much he loves his wife and children and grandchildren.”

As a tribute to Sproat, the company had a documentary made of his life a couple of years ago.

In it he says, “I’ll continue to do this for as long as I can. I probably going to be one of those guys who dies with his boots on. It’s been a great life, and I wouldn’t trade all this for anything.”

He is survived by wife Marlene; sons Eldon “Sale,” Kamaka­ohua and Kulu­wai­ma­ka­lani; daughters Teura Kea­nini, Liette Corpus, Eldene Albino, Sherron Kane­ai­akala, Azure Nahale, Brandi Sproat-Tilini, Kale­hua Augustiro and Kim Beagle; 37 grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hoo­le­hua ward. Services will be from 11 a.m. to noon. Burial to follow at Kanaka­loa Veterans Cemetery. Online condolences:

Buzzy Sproat loved to “meet people from all over the world” while leading tourists to Kalau­papa National Historical Park as co-owner of Kalau­papa Rare Adventure. He died June 14 at age 76. (Courtesy Sproat family)

Buzzy Sproat loved to “meet people from all over the world” while leading tourists to Kalau­papa National Historical Park as co-owner of Kalau­papa Rare Adventure. He died June 14 at age 76. (Courtesy Sproat family)

Posted in Featured


Posted On June 19th, 2014 -

CIA forerunner picked 442nd member for service

William Cole /

Dick Shigemi Hamada had four major fears serving as a Japanese-American in Burma during World War II.20-A24-Dick-Hamada-medal-obit

First was being mistakenly shot by fellow Americans. Second was a mistaken attack by the Burmese Kachin Rangers who he was fighting alongside.

The third fear was tigers, and the fourth was the Japanese enemy.

“Being in a jungle, being that we possess the face of an enemy, I was very much afraid of people that I didn’t know,” Hamada said in an oral history that’s part of the Hawaii Nisei Project at the University of Hawaii.

“I was safe with my people, Americans … but there are other people that you would run (with) during your campaign that didn’t know who you were,” Hamada said. “And that was what I was afraid of. I was afraid of being shot by them. So an American always (accompanied) me wherever I went.”

Born on Hawaii island to a carpenter father and picture bride mother, Hamada later watched as Japanese planes raced over Moiliili on Dec. 7, 1941.

“I felt betrayed and now feared for the worst to come to all American Japanese,” he said in another firsthand account.

Volunteering for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in 1943, Hamada was one of a relatively small number of nisei to be picked for duty with the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency.

He deciphered messages and reported casualty figures to higher headquarters as part of Detachment 101 in Burma, and in 1945 parachuted into Peiping (now Beijing), China, to rescue prisoners of war, including four Doolittle Raiders.

Hamada died at age 92 on May 27. He was a retired planner and estimator supervisor for the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard — where he had also worked at the time of the Dec. 7, 1941, attacks.

Services will be held Sunday at Hosoi Garden Mortuary at 4:30 p.m. Visitation is at 3:30 p.m. He will be buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.

Hamada’s son, Luke, recalled as a child wearing military hats, pinning medals on his shirt and playing with parts of a parachute from his father’s service days.

“At that time, I had no idea these childhood ‘toys’ represented my father’s role in U.S. history and his painful memories of World War II,” Luke Hamada wrote in a 2001 piece.

Hamada said Wednesday his father never talked much about his service.

“He is a very humble man,” and that was part of his Japanese culture, Hamada said.

Hamada’s service took a detour into the unconventional world of intelligence gathering and guerrilla tactics when an OSS recruiter looking for Japanese language skills came through Camp Shelby, Miss., where the 442nd was training.

Hamada was among a handful of nisei selected for the program.

According to the CIA, five nisei were sent to China, two to India and seven to Burma.

In Burma, Hamada was instructed to keep a bullet to use on himself if capture was imminent, because “the ultimate torture would be so great, and I’d probably end up dead,” Dick Hamada said in the oral history account.

He also learned there was a $20,000 reward for the capture of one of the Japanese-Americans. The OSS promised to provide whatever was requested, within reason, and Hamada asked for and received a .22-caliber pistol with a silencer.

On his first mission he went behind enemy lines in a single-engine aircraft to interrogate prisoners but found there weren’t any because the Japanese would shoot themselves, or each other, rather than be captured.

With the help of the Burmese Kachin Rangers, who knew the jungle, the kill ratio was 30-to-1. Hamada estimated there were a handful of Americans among the 200 to 300 Kachin soldiers.

In June 1945 Hamada was sent to China for parachute training and was assigned to Operation Magpie to rescue POWs.

Japan surrendered in mid-August, and although the rescue was a mercy mission, 12 Japanese soldiers with bayonets surrounded the parachuting troops when they landed Aug. 17.

A debate ensued as to whether the war was in fact over, but about 50 POWs eventually were secured, including four Doolittle Raiders who had taken the fight to Japan in bombing raids in 1942.

Posted in Featured

HIROSHI TAGAMI / 1928-2014

Posted On June 17th, 2014 -

Artist donated much of his work to benefit isle charities

By Steven Mark /

Hiroshi Tagami, an artist and amateur horticulturist who with partner Michael Powell developed a uniquely charitable business model, died Friday. He was 85.18-B9-Hiroshi-obit-painting-NEW

Tagami captured the energy of the islands with a variety of vibrant, lively paintings, all created in heavy oil paint applied by a pallet knife. “It’s almost like sculpting with paint,” said Powell, who learned the technique from Tagami. “He could paint everything — portraits, abstracts, impressionistic things, landscapes. He could do everything. It was amazing.”

His life’s work of more than 7,000 paintings was displayed at the Tagami and Powell Art Gallery and Gardens, a Kahaluu estate he first established with Richard Hart and later ran with Powell.

His works were also displayed at local establishments such as C.S. Wo and Sons, in private collections and at galleries around the world.

His partnership with Powell was kismet. Tagami first met Powell’s father, Frank Powell, who was admiring Tagami’s work on the fence at the Honolulu Zoo. Powell had brought $300 “in mad money” for his stay in Honolulu and wound up giving all of it to Tagami.

“He said, ‘You know what? I really believe in you, and I’m going to give you this money as a gift and I think it might help you get started in your career,’” Michael Powell said. “‘And then someday, when you’re on your feet in your career … send me a painting. That would be great.’”

Tagami did far more. A chance meeting with the Powells later that same year in New York introduced 11-year-old Michael to Tagami. Eighteen years later Powell moved to Honolulu to work in the banking industry, eventually studying painting with Tagami and joining him at the garden and gallery.

“It’s one of those things that makes you believe in connectedness and karma,” Michael Powell said.

Tagami & Powell developed a business model that served the community in more than just aesthetic ways. Instead of exhibiting in commercial galleries, they sold their works through charitable organizations, with a portion of the proceeds going to the charity.

“We would give away about 35 percent of all the artwork that we created in a year, and we made enough back to pay for our frames and materials, and then the lion’s share of the profits went to the charities. This enabled us to give freely to all the people that asked,” Powell said. “Hiroshi had always been generous with his donations to charities.”

Tagami had a lifelong interest in flora and fauna, which is represented not only in the lush gardens of his Windward property, but all over the country. In the 1970s he was part of a group that traveled through the Amazon region collecting plants.

“Many of the beautiful ornamental plants that we have here — heliconias, anthuriums and different things — are here because he brought them to the United States from South America,” Powell said. “He just walked through the jungle collecting plants.

“His philosophy was very pure. He said, ‘When I find something very unique and rare, my philosophy is to share it, because these things should be shared.’”

The garden and gallery were open by appointment to the general public, but it became so well known that the Dalai Lama paid a visit. That gave Tagami a chance to display his seemingly mystical connection to animals.

“Hiroshi used to be able to go outside and put his arms up in the air and call the birds to him,” Powell said. “I have a photograph of him and the Dalai Lama standing in his garden … and the wild birds flew down to them and ate.”

Tagami was born at Schofield Barracks, the sixth of 12 children, and worked on plantations while growing up.

His artistic talent surfaced early, but he was not able to get any formal training until after his military service in the Korean War, when he took art lessons at the Honolulu Academy of Art School.

As it turned out, they weren’t needed. His teacher wound up giving him money to pursue art.

“He was essentially self-taught,” Powell said.

Powell said Tagami had a reflective view of his artistic talent, once telling him that “my art is more like the nectar on a plant that would draw the bees or the birds for nourishment. My art is something I’m grateful for, but more importantly it draws people to me, and then I have life experiences with these people that are quite profound.”

In addition to Powell, Tagami is survived by many immediate family members.

A memorial service celebrating Tagami’s life will be held at 10 a.m. July 5 at Unity Church of Hawaii, 3608 Diamond Head Circle.

Posted in Featured

Turk Tetsuo Tokita: 1920-2014

Posted On June 9th, 2014 -

By Derrick DePledge

20140609_b4mugTurk Tetsuo Tokita, who earned two Purple Hearts fighting for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II and became a trusted political ally on Kauai to four Demo­cratic governors, died Saturday in Lihue. He was 94.

Shy before the war, Tokita was among the young Japa­nese-Americans who returned to the islands from the battlefield with the confidence and drive to transform Hawaii politics.

After the Democratic takeover of the Territorial Legislature in 1954 and statehood in 1959, Tokita became a political protege of John Burns, leading the Demo­crat’s campaigns for governor on Kauai. He would do the same for Govs. George Ari­yo­shi, John Wai-hee and Ben Caye­tano, evolving into the patriarch of Demo­cratic politics on the Garden Island.

“Before the war I was an introvert,” Tokita told author Pamela Varma Brown in 2011. “Because of politics I became an extrovert. My life really changed. I helped with statehood and became involved in all kinds of things.”

Ariyoshi described Tokita as a man who fought for his country and fought to make his state a better place.
“It’s not just political,” Ari­yo­shi said Sunday. “Turk turned out to be a very dear personal friend of mine.”

Cayetano remembered that Tokita was a reluctant supporter during his first campaign for governor in 1994 but wholeheartedly helped him in 1998. At the time, Tokita grumbled to Richard Borreca, then a reporter for the Hono­lulu Star-Bulletin, that the party had deteriorated and that young people had forgotten the party’s roots.

“It must be because we are fat cats,” he said. “It is because we aren’t the have-nots.”

Tokita accurately predicted that the 1998 campaign for governor would be the party’s toughest. Caye­­tano would edge Linda Lingle, a Republican who went on to win in 2002 and 2006.

“They don’t make them like him anymore,” Caye­tano said Sunday.

Tokita was a longtime administrative assistant to the Kauai Board of Supervisors and the Kauai County Council. He also worked as a land-use consultant and on a task force to promote economic opportunity.

Congress recognized the Japa­nese-Americans who served in the 100th Battalion, the 442nd and the Military Intelligence Service at a ceremony in Washington in 2011, 66 years after the war ended.

Tokita proudly attended.

Brown said it was remarkable that Tokita was not bitter about the delay.

“This is what I looked forward to,” he said, “that we would be honored as patriots.”

He is survived by wife Emi; children Lane, Mari and Ken; and five grandchildren.

Dennis Kamakahi: 1953-2014

Posted On June 9th, 2014 -

Services for guitarist will be held on July 5

Memorial services for Hawaiian entertainer the Rev. Dennis Kama­kahi have been scheduled for July 5.

A service will be held at 10 a.m. at Bernice Pau­ahi Bishop Memorial Chapel at Kame­ha­meha Schools, with visitation starting at 8:30 a.m.

A celebration of life will be held at noon on the Great Lawn at Bishop Museum.

The renowned slack-key guitar player and prolific songwriter died of lung cancer April 28.

Kamakahi’s contributions to Hawaiian music include his two decades of work as the youngest and last member of the original Sons of Hawai‘i, the albums he recorded for George Winston’s “Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Masters” series and his work as the leader of Na ‘Oiwi with his son, David, Mike Kaawa and Jon Yama­sato. Kama­kahi also contributed as a solo artist to three Grammy Award-winning compilation albums: “Legends of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar” in 2007, “Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar” in 2008 and “The Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar” in 2010. (When a compilation album wins a Grammy, the award goes to the producers, not the artists.)

Posted in Featured

Jack Joyce: 1942-2014

Posted On June 1st, 2014 -

Craft beer pioneer took risks and dished out ‘tough love’
By Sarah Zoellick

Jack Joyce, co-founder of Oregon-based Rogue Ales, made a name for himself as a beer pioneer, and he also made many friends in the isles.

He was a “really well-liked guy, especially down here,” Colin Nishida, the owner of Side Street Inn, said Friday.

Joyce died Tuesday in Honolulu at age 71, and friends and family are mourning the sudden loss of an iconic innovator in the craft beer industry.

“I miss my friend; I just miss sitting down and shooting the (breeze) and drinking a beer and talking about anything,” said Troy Terorotua, owner of REAL a Gastropub.

Joyce, who previously worked as an attorney and then an executive for Nike before the sneaker maker became a multibillion-dollar company, helped found Rogue in the late 1980s with other former Nike executives and longtime friends at a time when one-of-a-kind craft brews were far from being the latest craze, as they are now.

Rogue, with Joyce at its helm from the get-go, has always had a reputation for pushing boundaries and breaking barriers when it comes to brewing craft beer.

“Jack was definitely the marketing man. He was really good at what he did, and he didn’t care what anybody else thought about it … that ‘Dare, Risk, Dream’ thing (the company’s motto) was like his style of life,” Terorotua said. He later added: “He was one of the pioneers, and it’s a shame that he’s gone.”

On the first anniversary of REAL, Joyce called Terorotua and asked bluntly, “Hey, you broke yet?” Terorotua said. Terorotua answered, and Joyce followed up with, “Congratulations. You did better than 98 percent of people who want to own a bar.”

That was just how Joyce was — “quite the man of words,” Terorotua said. “He held no punches; he called a spade and spade and just gave you some tough love.”

Joyce also had a flare for giving back to the community, and he found ways to weave his two passions together for the benefit of others.

A special Monk Seal Ale is currently being sold in the isles in honor of the Waikiki Aquarium’s 110th anniversary, with part of the proceeds going to the aquarium’s monk seal preservation program. Terorotua said the beer was one of the last projects Joyce worked on before he died.

“He would always do something crazy and tie it in to somebody and give money away … give back to the community in some sort of Jack fashion,” Terorotua said.

Additional Hawaii-inspired signature ales have also been produced over the years.

Terorotua said he approached Joyce in 2010 to come up with the No Ka ‘Oi IPA (India Pale Ale) to mark the opening of Whole Foods Market in Kailua. A portion of the sales went to community nonprofits.

Terorotua, who previously worked as a beer buyer for the grocery chain, said he met Joyce after he caught a glimpse of him browsing brews at the Kahala Whole Foods while he was stocking shelves. Terorotua introduced himself to Joyce, who was surprised to be recognized by a stranger.

The two struck up a friendship that blossomed into a mentorship, with Joyce talking Terorotua through opening a pub of his own.

Joyce also developed a signature ale for Nishida.

Nishida said he was recovering from being in the hospital in a coma a few years ago when Joyce surprised him with the Side Street Inn Ale.

“When I opened it and I saw, you know, Side Street Inn Ale on it, that pretty much makes your day,” he said. “I don’t know how you can describe something (a feeling) like that.”

Nishida and Joyce met decades ago through a mutual friend. After the two got to know each other better, “He started telling me, ‘You work so hard; don’t work so hard, take it easy,’ and ‘Life’s too short,'” Nishida said. That was about the time Joyce started to retire and move his belongings down to a house he bought on Oahu.

“There’s not a nicer guy that I ever met,” Nishida said. He recalled fondly that Joyce would walk into Side Street Inn, show himself into the kitchen and talk story with the cooks and wait staff.

He was the kind of guy to “just come in and be himself and do what he wants,” he said.

Nishida said he plans to honor Joyce at his restaurant in some way, but he isn’t yet sure how.

Joyce was a “simple guy, never wanted nothing fancy,” he said, so a Jack burger might pop up on the menu soon in honor of the many times the two spent lunch talking over burgers and beer.

Both Nishida and Terorotua said they’re confident Joyce’s legacy will live on in the quirky, creative beer brand he helped establish.


Jack Joyce co-founded Oregon-based Rogue Ales in the 1980s with other former Nike executives. He helped create several brews specially for Hawaii causes. (Photo courtesy New York Times)

Posted in Featured

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)

Posted in Featured

Larry Ordonio: 1944-2014

Posted On May 15th, 2014 -

Golf was the passion for this Kalakaua course fixture

Larry Ordonio, a PGA professional for 40 years in Hawaii, died May 9 at the age of 69. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Pearl City, with visitation at 10 a.m.

Ordonio grew up golfing with Leilehua classmate Bev Kim and the Rego and Kono families at Hawaii Country Club. After a short stint at culinary school, Ordonio worked at the course in Kunia, along with Ford Island, Mililani Golf Club and Hawaii Kai. He was head pro at Kalakaua, moving to Nagorski for a short time in the late ’90s before retiring at Kalakaua in 2004.

In the midst of teaching and administrative duties, Ordonio won the Aloha Section Stroke Play championship in 1981 and reached two Aloha Section Match Play finals. He defeated Mike Matheny to win in 1978 and fell to Ron Castillo a year later.

Ordonio married his wife, Aurora, in 1968 and she fully appreciated how much he liked golf, in large part because she loved watching him play.

“I let him do it because that was his love. You can’t take that away,” Aurora said. “I’ll miss watching him compete in golf. I loved it, through the ups and downs, whether he won or not, it was fine with me.

“I came first, but he loved golf. We both love golf.”

The Ordonios have two children — Lawrence Ordonio Jr. and Katrina Florez — and five grandchildren. Larry also leaves a sister, Cora Ordonio.

Posted in Featured

BILL BACHRAN / 1926-2014

Posted On May 7th, 2014 -

Hawaii’s golf media relations whiz

Ann Miller / Special to the Star-Advertiser

Bill Bachran, who was still working as the Sony Open in Hawaii historian last year at age 86, died April 27 with wife Laurie by his side.

Bachran grew up in New York, arrived in Hawaii for his honeymoon in 1949 and never left. Laurie had not been back to Hawaii since she left for college, where she met Bachran in a production of “The Mikado.”

The first of six children arrived the next year, on the day Bachran was assigned by the Honolulu Advertiser to do interviews on the Lurline ocean liner, stuck here during a six-month Matson strike.

His first subject — retired admiral Bill Halsey — told him “no comment, kid.” His second was singer/actor Mario Lanza, who had just made his first film and was “hiding out” on the ship. Bachran handed him a cigar to celebrate the birth of his son and got a great interview, along with tickets to Lanza’s concert.

Bachran worked in the media, public relations — with Pan Am, Hawaiian and United — and with 141 Hawaii, which has run the PGA Tour event at Waialae Country Club since it became the Sony Open in 1999.

For more than 40 years, Bachran ran the Hawaiian Open/Sony Open media room. He moved out to the course in 2012 to serve as historian for the spectators, and usually could answer questions off the top of his head.

Between his ebullient personality and jobs that offered intrigue, Bachran became friends with William Holden — Bachran called him “Bill” — and Frank Sinatra, Norman Rockwell, Andre Kostelanetz, Gary Cooper and John Wayne, and golfers Arnold Palmer, Lanny Wadkins and Hale Irwin.

Bachran also was a dance partner in the live TVShow, produced by J Akuhead Pupule, and helped Lou Robbins and Tom Moffatt do public relations for acts such as the Jackson Five, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Sergio Mendes, Wayne Newton, the Smothers Brothers and Earth, Wind and Fire.

Bachran never actually played golf, but took up tennis in his 50s and was an accomplished player with a healthy respect for rules and the history of the game.

Those qualities served him well during his years working Hawaii’s premier golf tournament. So did his ability to speak Japanese, particularly when Isao Aoki won the 1983 championship with a stunning eagle on his final swing.

“The Sony/Hawaiian Open was his life for the last 40 years or so,” said son Greg. “He wasn’t a golfer. I think he tried a few times, but it’s a hard game to play and master. But he knew most everything about the game except how to play.”

What Bachran also knew, and was proud to tell anyone who even broached the subject, was how happy he was with his family and life in Hawaii.

“I’ve been blessed, I’ll tell you,” Bachran said last year, just before his retirement. “God has really lifted me up. … I enjoy being a haole who learned to live the life of a Hawaiian. There have been so many positive things.”

Along with wife Laurie — Mrs. Hawaii 1963 — Bachran leaves sons Christopher, Timothy and Greg; daughters Celia Rawlins, Rebecca Salzer and Mari Stewart; 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

The family is planning a Celebration of Life, Aug. 3, from 4 to 7 p.m., at Waialae Country Club.

Posted in Featured

ARNOLD FUKUTOMI / 1956 – 2014

Posted On May 4th, 2014 -

Kendo master led, inspired with ‘utmost dignity and grace’

By Curtis Murayama /

Arnold Fukutomi, who won several kendo titles as a competitor, led teams to world championships as a coach and lived his life abiding by the principles of the sport such as dignity and honor, died April 21 while jogging. He was 57.04-B6-arnold-fukutomi

“He is what you would aspire to be if you knew him,” said Desmond Nakamoto, who knew the kendo master for more than 30 years and became his son-in-law. “You couldn’t help but be impacted by how he led his life and can’t help but change how you want to live your life now that he’s passed … Everybody who knew him for any period of time aspired to be like him.”

Born in Aiea, Fukutomi began his lifelong kinship with kendo (meaning “way of the sword”) and its beliefs at age 10 when he and his younger brother, Bryant, trained under Dr. Noboru Akagi.

“We would always fight with sticks and we would end up crying, mostly me,” said Bryant Fukutomi, who is two years younger. “Our grandma got mad and said, ‘If you going fight with stick, learn the right way.’ So she dragged us (to a kendo club in Aiea).”
Arnold Fukutomi began his training with Akagi in 1966.

“After I trained him 25 years and when he was good enough, I retired,” said Akagi, 85, a retired surgeon who was born in Japan and moved to Hawaii in 1954. “He was (a) very excellent (student). He was the first person born in Hawaii who became a seventh dan (seventh-degree black belt). It’s quite high, even in Japan.”

Bryant Fukutomi said his brother’s training was “insane.” He said his brother  would swing the shinai (sword) 1,000 times.
“Usually you swing it 100 times you get tired, but he wanted to see if he could swing it 1,000 times.”

After Fukutomi found that to be too easy, Bryant Fukutomi said his brother shaved down a Christmas tree and swung that.
Fukutomi won titles in Canada and at the fourth triennial World Kendo Championships in Sapporo, Japan, in 1979. He also received an individual kantosho (spirit) award at the second WKC and a team kantosho at another WKC.

He competed eight times at the WKC and coached Team Hawaii five times at the world competition. His teams produced four kantosho recipients. Active until the end, Fukutomi was training Team Hawaii for the 2015 WKC in Sapporo.

“I always admired how he handled winning,” Naka­moto said. “Everybody deals with losing, but it’s how you handle winning, which is a reflection of the person that you are. And Arnold won all the time and he was a champion, but he handled himself with the utmost dignity and grace and integrity, which I found also very admirable.”

Nakamoto, a Punahou graduate who now runs his own law firm in the Orange County area, wasn’t coached by Fukutomi but trained with him for the WKC in 1988 and 1991.

“I often sparred with him,” Nakamoto said. “Sparring with Arnold was like competing against a computer in chess — you always knew that he was learning all your moves and tendencies. Rarely would you be able to hit Arnold with the same technique more than once. He always got the best of me, and I was considered one of the best in Hawaii at the time.”

Fukutomi’s legacy only broadened later as he served as the Hawaii Kendo Federation president, Aiea Taiheiji Kendo Club chief instructor and Seibukan instructor.

“Certainly locally, you cannot talk about Hawaii Kendo Federation without mentioning Arnold Fukutomi,” Nakamoto said. “I mentioned the accolades he received while he was actually in tournaments but he had an equally impressive resume after he stopped competing in the Hawaii Kendo Federation. So you can’t have any rational discussion about the Hawaii Kendo Federation without discussing Arnold. His footprint, so to speak, in the Hawaii Kendo Federation is huge. You can’t get around it.”

Fukutomi graduated from Aiea High School, the University of Hawaii and the Electronics Institute. He served as systems operator for the city’s Department of Transportation Services.
In addition to kendo, Fukutomi was an avid fisherman, tennis player and craftsman. He is survived by his wife, Cynthia; son, Braxton; daughter, Roxie Nakamoto; mother, Ryoko; brother, Bryant; sister, Colleen; seven nieces and one nephew.

A celebration of his life will be held Wednesday at Mililani Memorial Park and Mortuary, mauka chapel, with visitation at 5:30 p.m. and service at 6:30 p.m.

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- Denotes U.S. Military Veteran