The Garden Island
Notice #: 0001048171-01
Funeral Notices

REIKO OKANO Reiko Okano, 94, of Honolulu, passed away peacefully at home on Nov 5, 2017, surrounded by her loving family. Perhaps the many tragedies in Reiko’s youth made her strong. Born and raised in Tokyo, her mother died when she was 9; at 13, her father suffered a stroke; at 17, Reiko’s only sister fell ill and passed away, then her father died. At 18, a clerical job would afford her a modest apartment, but when WW2 broke out, fire bombs fell on Tokyo destroying her apartment and place of work. She was 22. The war ended and Americans occupied Japan. Reiko fell in love with Teiji Frank Okano, a handsome American soldier from Seattle. However, Americans were forbidden to marry Japanese citizens. Teiji had filed a marriage request but after 2 yrs of romance, was transferred back to the US and eventually honorably discharged. Reiko waited while Teiji reenlisted, in a continued effort to reunite in Japan. Instead, he was deployed for the Korean War. Marriage was now possible, but being in Korea, he asked his brother, George, based in Tokyo, to stand in for him and married Reiko by proxy. 2 yrs passed before they were reunited but in the end, they were happily married for over 70 yrs. Life in Japan was good with 3 children. They enjoyed a vibrant social life, drinking, dancing, and bowling. From flower arranging to classical Japanese dance, Reiko thrived. She invested in stocks and real estate, and even opened a cafe, while Teiji worked for the Army/Air Force Exchange. In 1967, the US started closing military bases and Teiji was transferred to New Jersey, then, Louisiana. There were "Whites Only" signs and no Asians in sight, and Reiko didn’t speak a word of english or drive. After 2 yrs, the next transfer to Hawaii was perfect, halfway between Tokyo and Seattle. Golfing together until 82 and playing poker weekly till 89, her annual trips to Las Vegas with Teiji and Cathy ended at 90 when she also quit smoking as a pact with her granddaughter. Reiko was also an avid reader and loved gardening. She helped raise 3 granddaughters and cooked daily, often for a family of 10, with children, grandchildren, and their partners. Everyone loved her tonkatsu, sukiyaki, okonomiyaki, and other specialties. She complained about all the cooking and cleaning but it never stopped her from preparing the next delicious meal or keeping an impeccably clean home. Thank you Mom for nourishing all of us and for being such a pillar of strength throughout our lives. We will miss you and will take care of Dad till he joins you. Reiko is survived by her husband, Teiji; children, Patrick (wife, Taehee), Catherine, and Joyce; granddaughters, Mariko, Remy, and Kenna Reed; and great granddaughters, Riley, Aya and Hilina’i.