George Kenichi Oide, a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and one of the first in Hawaii to use a monotype composing machine for commercial printing, died in Kapahulu on Jan. 27. He was 97.
Born Feb. 22, 1923, in Nuuanu to immigrants from Hiroshima, Japan, Oide was the youngest of nine children. After graduating from McKinley High School in 1941, he enlisted in the Army and was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion-Headquarters Company, serving throughout Europe.
“(My grandfather) looked like this tiny little man, under 100 pounds, but his job was to hold the radio as the forward observer, so he was always right in harm’s way,” said Oide’s grandson, Hailama Farden. “He never complained. Even when he was wounded by shrapnel, he never filed for a Purple Heart. It wasn’t important to him; his dedication and service was most important.”
While in Europe, he met his future wife, Erika Karbe, a German Luftwaffe courier who defected to marry the Nisei soldier. She died in 1999 at age 77.
After the war, Oide enrolled in a typographical apprenticeship program through the Honolulu Advertiser and sponsored by the International Typographical Union, Local 37. He earned an apprentice diploma in 1952 and went on to work for the Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
In 1956, for the first time in Hawaii, the Advertiser’s production department began using monotype equipment, a system for printing by hot-metal typesetting from a keyboard. Oide also typeset the first unabridged Hawaiian language dictionary by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Elbert in 1957.
Oide later moved on to Typographers Inc., a typographic and print agency where he would become president and owner in 1983. He retired in 1992.
In 2007, Oide was selected as a Living Treasure of Hawaii by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission but declined the honor. According to Farden, in explaining his decision, Oide often said he “already got paid” for his work and that he didn’t know why he should be honored for doing his duty.
“He’s a great example of someone who had a lot of ethics, good morals,” said Oide’s son, Ralf Oide. “(He was) very patient and very tolerant.”
In June 2019, the French Government bestowed Oide and five other Hawaii Nisei veterans with its highest military and civilian award, La Legion D’Honneur Medal, for their participation in the 1945 liberation of France.
In 2020, he was selected as a Kalani Ali‘i awardee by the Hawaiian Royal Societies for his contributions to both the U.S. military and to the Hawaiian language dictionary. The award will be conferred posthumously to Oide later this year.
Outside of his work, Oide’s passions included writing haiku in English and Japanese, crossword puzzles and sudoku, and fishing. “We grew up eating a lot of fish, and I have really fond memories of doing that,” Ralf Oide said. “I’ve been a fisherman all my life, I was a diver at one time. My kids love to fish. My grandson loves to fish … We’re all into it, and it started with my pop.”
Oide is additionally survived by his son Glenn T. H. (Kathy) Oide, two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.