The Garden Island
Notice #: 0001059803-01
Funeral Notices

BERTHA BICENTA LEINAALA CHING KAWAKAMI Bertha, a longtime educator and former state representative, died on November 30, 2017. She was born and raised in Honolulu as one of seven children to Nancy Makia and Joseph Ching. A graduate of the Kamehameha School for Girls in 1949, Bertha attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa where she obtained her B.A. in education, followed by an M.A. in education from New York University. While at UH Manoa, Bertha was a flight attendant for Hawaiian Airlines. After college, she joined the Department of Education as a teacher, first at Nanaikapono Elementary, then Pearl Harbor Elementary, followed by a move to Kauai to teach at Eleele School. She would later become a principal at both Kekaha and Eleele Schools before joining the DOE Kauai District Office as an educational specialist and then deputy district superintendent. Unfortunately in 1987, her husband, Richard A. Kawakami, a longtime businessman and state representative for West Kauai and Niihau, died only a couple of months after becoming Speaker of the State House of Representatives. Bertha was appointed by then-Governor John Waihee to fill her late husband’s seat, where she would serve the people of Kauai and Niihau until her retirement in 2006. Bertha was born on July 28, 1931 in Honolulu and is preceded in death by her husband as well as son Kendall Kawakami (1998). She is survived by son Wendall (Elizabeth) Kawakami and granddaughter Keilyn of Spokane, Washington, daughter Lyndall Kawakami of Honolulu, sisters Priscilla Wong and Deborah Chu, and many nieces and nephews. Visitation will be at 10:00 am on Saturday, January 13, 2018 at Diamond Head Mortuary. Services will begin at 11:30 am with reception to follow.