She was born in Wailuku, Maui on December 12, 1943, the first born to Shigeo and Itoyo Sugiyama. Not being the only child for long, the family was blessed with four more daughters, which resulted in a very tight "sisterhood" with Jeannie at the helm of many hilarious adventures bringing up her younger sisters on the island of Maui.
Smart and beautiful, she developed an early maturity and responsibleness. She loved to read and studied traditional Japanese dance during high school and went on to earn a Masters degree at the University of Hawaii.
With the words of her dad "Shige" in her heart - "Do good and always leave a place better than how you found it" - she embarked on making a difference in the world. That mantra resulted in an outstanding career as a globe-trotting United Airlines stewardess, teacher, Vice-Principal, and finally as Principal at both King Intermediate and Aliamanu Elementary. She loved being an educator and loved being a leader. She loved the children as if they were her own and loved the people she worked with like family. We often heard teachers tell us Jeannie was the one who gave them their first break.
Her wisdom and no-nonsense demeanor was paradoxical to her big-hearted generosity. She possessed worldly expertise and a great fairness in her point of view. Growing up, we would always ask Jeannie for advice and it didn't take too long before our kids would also turn to ask "Auntie Jeannie".
In retirement, she continued to help make life better for many by volunteering at KHON's Action Line. Jeannie was also the weekend coordinator of fun and frolic with sisters and friends. A voracious reader of books, and lover of the theater and movies enabled her to give us the "scoops" on the next must-see.
The other joys in her life were her precious cats Duke, Ming, and Jabba. There wasn't a cat that didn't like Jeannie. In fact she was a magnet to just about every animal and almost every person. She was magnetic!
"Auntie Jeannie" is survived by her father Shigeo; sisters, Esther (Everett) Yee, Lois (Lance) Tanimoto, Faye (Raynard) Higa, Sheila Taira; eight nieces and nephews, and eight grandnieces and nephews.
We would like to express our deepest Mahalo to the people at St. Francis Hospice, the dear and many supportive friends, and to the caregivers that brought special love and comfort to Jeannie - especially Joe, Sheri, and Maryanne. We are forever grateful!
A private service will be held at the Garden of Peace niche at the Diamond Head Cemetery. We will miss you forever, Jeannie! You brought Joy into our lives!
Arrangements Provided By: Nuuanu Memorial Park & Mortuary LLC