Charles Isami Oda
Charles Isami OdaCharles Isami Oda, 93, passed away peacefully on January 5, 2017, at his home in Centennial, Colorado. He is predeceased by his wife of 66 years, Reiko Takakuwa Oda, who died in June 2016. He is survived by daughters, Bonnie Oda Homsey (Philip) of Los Angeles, California, and Jill Oda Woomer of Centennial, Colorado, and grandchildren, Devin, Kara, and Tali Homsey, Mitch and Augustus Woomer; and sister Fusako Rodrigues of California. Born in Pu'unene, Maui, on February 9, 1923, to Gunpei and Kikue Oda, he spent his youth swimming in the irrigation ditches of the sugarcane fields. Swimming was his passion, and from a young age Charlie was identified and trained by Soichi Sakamoto as one of the original members of the 3 Year Swim Club. In 1941, he received a full-ride swimming scholarship to the University of Hawaii, however when World War II erupted, Charlie enlisted and became part of the 442nd RCT. He was assigned to the Cannon Company and sent to fight in Europe. During the late summer of 1944, since there were no Olympic games that year, the Tri-Theatre Allied Games were scheduled in Rome, Italy. The games were organized for Allied athletes from the European & Mediterranean Armies in an athletic competition that included Track & Field, Swimming & Diving, and Team Sports. Charles was selected to participate in the Swimming & Diving competition for the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations (MTO) team, competing against several past and future Olympic Champions. At the meet, he individually won the 200M, 400M and 1500M freestyle events and anchored the 400M and 800M relays to the team championship. As a result of his efforts, Charlie was awarded the "Outstanding Performer" award and presented a trophy for his accomplishments. After the war, Charlie returned to the University of Hawaii to finish his major in sociology and continued to chase success in the pool locally and nationally. He became captain of the University of Hawaii swim team, and finished his swimming career with a bid to make the 1948 Olympics at the swimming trials in Detroit, Michigan. Charlie worked for over 30 years with Pan-American Airlines in Reservations, then the Sales Division; and he travelled the globe wherever Pan Am flew. Charlie also continued to be involved with swimming through coaching and worked with the swim team at the Nuuanu YMCA, following in the vein of Coach Sakamoto. Until he moved to Colorado in 2001, he could be found several times a week enjoying his afternoon long distance swims in the ocean off the beach at Ala Moana. Inurnment at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl, will be held privately at a future date.

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