DR. CLIFFORD KOTARO KOBAYASHIDR. CLIFFORD KOTARO KOBAYASHI Dr. Clifford Kotaro Kobayashi was a gardener and a fisherman. He was a physician, a teacher, a devoted husband, a loving father and friend. He drew his final breath just before dawn on Sunday, April 6, grandchildren by his side. He was 94. Clifford became the second board certified pediatrician in Hawaii. He was an old fashioned doctor who made house calls, often accepting saimin and smoked meat as payment. He was as passionate teaching infant nutrition to new mothers as he was about providing practical community education to medical students. Clifford was instrumental in starting the Premature Infant Demonstration Center at St. Francis Hospital and served as the Center's director for years. He helped establish and chaired the residency program at Kauikeolani Children's Hospital, and he participated in a feasibility study to create a two-year medical school at the University of Hawaii. Cliff later became a Professor of Pediatrics at the John Burns School of Medicine, and an Instructor of Pediatrics at Queen's and the St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing. His dream of becoming a doctor began with his own near-fatal bout of pneumonia as a child. He admired the Wailuku doctor who never abandoned hope, and he learned that "so important [is] the love parents have for a child." Clifford lived most of his life in Honolulu, but Maui was home. His paternal grandparents--Kyutaro and Towa Kobayashi--arrived in 1891 aboard the Miike Maru. Kyutaro interpreted for laborers at the Makawao Courthouse and within three years he and Towa left the plantation to raise racehorses and operate the Kobayashi Hotel across from the Paia Mercantile. Clifford's father, Nobuichi, was the oldest child, and eventually ran a movie theater and N. Kobayashi Auto Supply on Hana Highway. Clifford would play the pianorola during the silent movies, and when Nobuichi secured Hawaii's first Pepsi-Cola and Nehi Beverages franchise, Cliff and his brother Harry washed bottles by hand. Nobuichi married Michiyo Iwamoto--the daughter of shibori and bonsai artisans--and Clifford was the firstborn of six children. He went to Paia School, he rose to the rank of Eagle Scout in Paia's Troop 10, and after graduating from Maui High in 1938 spent two years at the University of Hawaii before transferring to the University of Iowa. With his Martin ukulele in tow, Clifford rode steerage from Honolulu to San Francisco before boarding a train to Iowa City. On December 7, 1941, Clifford was a medical school freshman. He would say, "I felt like a man without a country." Although his ancestry barred him from military service, his Iowa classmates and professors embraced and defended him--many were children of German immigrants who faced similar intolerance during World War I. Clifford returned to Honolulu for his internship at Queen's Hospital, and when he met student nurse Catherine Kwon, it was love at first sight. Five months after V-J Day, Clifford and Cathy married at The Cathedral of St. Andrew. Despite his World War II exclusion from the military, Clifford was Honorably Discharged as a U.S. Air Force (Korean War) Major in 1955. He was a lifelong gardener and fisherman. In Paia, he scaled rocks for pipipi and opihi, fashioned homemade spears and goggles, and netted lobsters. He spent countless hours whipping for barracuda, papio, and omaka. He pulled catfish out of the Iowa River, shrimped in La Paz, and fished the waters of Fiji and Kiritimati. Cliff planted mango and fig trees that sprawl and blossom to this day in Paia on the same acreage where his grandparents' home once stood. In his final days, he dreamed of ulua, he sang Mario Lanza tunes and closed his eyes to hum Puccini arias. He pulled his granddaughter's hand to his chest and softly whispered, "what a story." He is survived by his wife of 69 years Cathy, daughters Mary (Maj. Gen. Tim) Lowenberg, Susan (Bob) Schwab, Dr. Barbara Kobayashi, and Rita (Joe) May. His memory will be cherished by grandchildren Cathy Malia Lowenberg, Dr. Christine Schwab (Dr. Mike Klevay), Dr. Jennifer Schwab, Stephen Schanzenbach, David Schanzenbach, Sean May, and great-grandchildren Madeleine and Nora Klevay. He leaves siblings Constance Yamamoto, Buddy Kobayashi, and Prof. Victor Kobayashi. Cliff is missed by his beloved cat, Kiko. The family is deeply grateful to the staff of St. Francis Hospice/The Sister Maureen Keleher Center who brought dignity and comfort to Cliff's final days. Clifford's ashes will be inurned at The Cathedral of St. Andrew following a 1:30 Service on Saturday, May 24, 2014. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to The Cathedral of St. Andrew--the church where Cliff and Cathy began their journey, one that remains a beacon of hope, tolerance, and love.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased