AMY TODA MEEKER
Amy lived in Honolulu for most of her life, but she liked to talk about two big events that occurred well before her move to Hawaii. As a teenager, she lived in Japan during World War II and then in the postwar years, she attended the University of Utah as a nationally ranked skier. She died here in Honolulu, on the ninth of March, 2018. Her old ski friends all agree, at age 94, Amy finally missed a gate.
Amy was born in Portland Oregon, but in 1938, she was living in Vancouver BC when her mother died. After much thought, Amy’s father made a gutsy decision to take his four children and move to Japan. Amy’s older sister Martha sailed with the family but did not stay in Japan. So, at age fifteen, Amy took on the role of mother for the younger children, Harold and Katherine. Together they faced a new life in vibrant Tokyo.
Even so, Amy lost no time in finding English speaking schools and a place to ski. She won the women’s first place in seven ski races while living in Japan. Amy was admitted by The American School in Japan for the class of ’40, the last class to graduate. Her beloved school closed in May 1941 because foreign students were leaving.
As war loomed on the horizon, Amy moved her family to safety in Karuizawa, an isolated mountain village that had become a haven for foreigners. It was a peaceful town where English was the common language and tennis was the only important social activity.
When the war ended, Amy took on the job as the ski instructor for a US Army Rest Hotel. Two years later she packed up her worldly possessions and departed Japan for the University of Utah. As a student, she excelled in both academics and sports. In her first year, she was awarded a scholarship for outstanding grades. In addition, she was a stand out on the women’s ski team. In 1948 and 1949, Amy was selected to be on the Utah State Women’s Ski Team which each year named the four best women skiers in the State of Utah.
All the same, Amy decided that it was time to hang up her skies and finish college. She graduated in August 1950 with a BS Degree in Sociology. Waving her diploma, she announced, that now she could marry Virgil Meeker, a graduate student at University of Michigan. They were married in Three Oaks, MI not far from Ann Arbor.
Student life was fascinating but ended, three years later when Amy became pregnant and Virgil was hired as a Geographer by the US Army in Tokyo. Amy made the move to Tokyo later after birth of daughter Heidi in Ann Arbor. Not long after that, second daughter Sarah was born in Tokyo. Then Virgil’s office was transferred to Hawaii where Amy gave birth to her third daughter, Martha.
Once Martha started school, Amy chose to do volunteer work, pledging many hours of her spare time to the Bishop Museum, Punahou School and Kapiolani Hospital. No doubt her lasting achievement was a formal acknowledgement by the Honolulu Academy of Arts for her fifteen years of loyal and dedicated service.
Seeking a source of income, Amy became a substitute teacher. Her specialties were English and Japanese, but in emergencies, she could assist or handle many different subjects. For example, at times she taught home economics, social studies or tennis. But the assignment she cherished most was the day she was asked to take charge of the McKinley High School Band.
She is survived by her husband Virgil Meeker; daughters Heidi (Webster Nolan), Sarah (Kirk McKinley), and Martha (David Hamamoto); four grandchildren; and a great number of relatives.
Amy was a dedicated member of the Willed Body Program at the University of Hawaii’s Medical School. Honoring her wishes, there will be no funeral or memorial service.