My last column of the year gives out my annual Rearview Mirror Awards to people who have made a difference in Hawaii and in the world. Here are this year’s honorees.
Entrepreneurial Excellence Award
Hawaii lost one of its greatest entrepreneurs in November. Goro Arakawa was 97. I’m proud to have known and call him a friend.
Arakawa, along with five of his siblings and their spouses, ran the Arakawa’s store that their parents, Zenpan and Tsuru, had opened in Waipahu in 1909. The second generation took over the plantation- style store in 1955.
Goro brilliantly branded not just the store, but also the street it was on — “historic” Depot Road — and their community.
“Our logo and advertisements all said ‘Waipahu’ under our name,” Goro told me. “Our identity was tied to Waipahu. When people thought of Waipahu, they thought of Arakawa’s. We had many opportunities to open stores in Kapahulu and Kalihi, but we always decided to stay where we were.”
“A nephew had a tape recording of a rooster,” Goro said. “I felt it conveyed that country feeling we embodied, so we used it in all our radio and TV ads. ‘Arakawa’s on historic Depot Road … cock-a- doodle-do … in Waipahu’ we’d say. It was attention-getting. People would smile and joke. We’d say, ‘When we crow … it pays to listen.’ ”
Arakawa’s even had rooster- crowing contests live on KCCN radio from its parking lot. “People would come out in rooster costumes and compete for prizes. A haole nun from Canada won one year,” Goro recalled. “A Portuguese guy was so good, we used him in the ads. Everyone thought it was a real rooster.”
Please read Arakawa’s obituary on Page B6.
First in Her Class Award
It might surprise you to learn that the first woman to achieve the rank of general in any of the U.S. armed forces was from Hawaii.
Her name was Frances Iwalani Mossman. In 1983 she became the first woman to achieve the rank of brigadier general.
Mossman came from an illustrious family. Her cousin Doug Mossman was an actor whose credits included “Hawaii Five-O” and “Hawaiian Eye.”
Her uncle and aunt founded Lalani Village, a tourist attraction that replicated life in ancient Hawaii and demonstrated island traditions and culture. It grew out of the first Hawaiian-language school in Hawaii in 1928.
Frances Mossman was a national security and defense planning and policy consultant for 45 years. She co-founded History Education Hawaii and was president of the Hawaii International Dispute Resolution Group.
She served as president of the Bishop Museum Association and the Armed Services YMCA, was vice president of the Girl Scout Council of Hawaii and the Hawaii Army Museum Society, and was a founding director of the Pacific Aviation Museum. She died in 2018 at her home in Mililani.
Showcasing History Award
For over 35 years Don Hibbard produced the Department of Land and Natural Resources State Historic Preservation Division calendar.
These high-quality calendars are treasured keepsakes. They featured beautiful professional photography of our island’s historic sites, with accompanying text sharing their unique stories.
The calendars debuted around 1984, and Hibbard retired the project, a labor of love, this year. Thank you, Don and your sponsors and team, for this gift to the islands.
Sharing Aloha Award
Jessica Lani Rich in 2019 celebrated her 15th year as president of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, an organization that helps tourists in crisis.
It shows up when visitors are faced with car break-ins, robberies, medical emergencies and even death.
During her time at VASH, Rich has assisted hundreds of visitors in distress. With tourism being our No. 1 industry in the state and with social media, VASH plays an important role in helping our visitors by giving them the aloha they somehow failed to find.
Most of these visitors leave Hawaii feeling cared for, even though something bad may have happened. They leave here with a good feeling about the people of Hawaii.
In addition to her work at VASH, Rich started producing and hosting a TV show in January titled “Inspire You & Me,” which highlights people in the community making a difference or overcoming adversity. It airs Sundays at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 11 p.m. on KWHE TV-14, Spectrum Channel 11.
Hawaii Humanitarian of the Year
Ophthalmologist Dr. John Corboy provided 40% of the eye care in Hawaii from 1975 through about 2000, with a staff of 94 in nine offices statewide.
In 1984 he launched the Hawaiian Eye Foundation, which has delivered free eye care to the poor of Hawaii, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and South America.
“Our volunteer surgeons, nurses and techs did 30 missions last year, including 2,000 cataract surgeries for the blind poor,” Corboy told me. They’ve now conducted over 300 medical missions to over 32 countries and served 200,000 patients.
For this great work I confer to John Corboy the Hawaii Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Coaching Excellence Award
Gerald Oda was one of the managers of the Honolulu Little League team that won the 12-and-under World Series in August 2018 in South Williamsport, Pa.
Oda told me about the things the coaches emphasized to the kids. I expected him to say something like “practice, practice, practice.”
I was surprised to hear him say things that are more metaphysical than stealing bases, pinch-hitting and ground-rule doubles.
The things that the managers stressed, Oda said, were:
>> Focus on the effort, not the result.
>> Live in the moment.
>> Love and support one another.
>> Worry only about the things you can control.
>> Show appreciation.
“The coaches focused on making sure the players had a positive experience at the World Series. We couldn’t guarantee wins.
“Don’t be afraid if you don’t get on base,” Oda told the youngsters. “Instead, really enjoy this moment. This is your time. Face this challenge and do your best, whether you make it or not. Success is based on the effort, not the outcome.
“As long as you do your best, that’s all we can ask. Then you can walk away proud.”
You personified those qualities, Gerald, and for that I give you the 2019 Coaching Excellence Award.
The Never Give Up Award
The founder of Servco, Peter Hideichi Fukunaga, came to Hawaii island from Hiroshima, Japan, in 1907 when he was 17. He was seriously injured time and again, suffering everything from broken wrists to tuberculosis to a busted leg. But he managed to turn every setback into an opportunity. It would become part of the underlying DNA of the company.
In his mid-20s he contracted tuberculosis and spent a year at Leahi Hospital. He lost the use of one of his lungs. During his convalescence Fukunaga improved his English skills.
While recuperating in the hospital from another injury, he took a correspondence course in automotive work. He left the hospital on crutches and took over the Waialua Garage 100 years ago in 1919.
The company moved to Wahiawa in 1930, and during the Great Depression diversified into car dealerships, appliances and music. It’s been Hawaii’s Toyota supplier for over 60 years and has grown to over $1.8 billion in annual sales.
Force for Good Award
The Aloha United Way has been in the islands for 100 years, and in that time has raised an astounding $677 million for more than 315 local charities.
The AUW was originally established in 1919 as the United Welfare Fund to create a more efficient way of distributing charitable giving, primarily through workplace campaigns.
Of the original 17 partner agencies, nine are still beneficiaries today: Boy Scouts of America, Aloha Council; Girl Scouts of Hawaii; Hawaiian Humane Society; Leahi- Maluhia Foundation; Palama Settlement; The Salvation Army — Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division; Susannah Wesley Community Center; YWCA of Oahu; and YMCA of Honolulu.
Congratulations to these men and women and to everyone who acts out of kindness and generosity for the betterment of us all.