THOMAS KEIJI TOCHIKI
29, passed away suddenly on March 2, 2018 at Queen’s Medical Center after emergency heart surgery. Although Thomas’ life was much too brief, he actually touched many lives with his creativity and humble, gentle spirit.
Thomas’ life was a gift and a blessing. He was born on October 20, 1988 with biliary atresia, lacking a bile duct system in his liver. Thomas’ life expectancy was less than three years unless he could receive a liver transplant. He was among the first babies born in Hawai`i to have this surgery. The Ronald McDonald House in San Francisco became our home for six months while we waited for a new liver for Thomas. He received a liver transplant at the Pacific Presbyterian Medical Center just days after his first birthday, which was just weeks after the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. We are particularly grateful to the many doctors and nurses who skillfully cared for Thomas throughout his life, especially Dr. Ron Hino, Dr. Claire Wilson, those at the Kapi’olani Hospital, the Stanford Transplant Team, and Dr. Linda Wong.
Life was challenging for Thomas, but he never complained. He struggled with side effects from anti-rejection medicine and survived several bouts of rejection, as well as a very painful intestinal obstruction and surgery in 2012. Most of Thomas’ classmates, friends, and colleagues knew little about his transplant because he was very private about it. He knew the value of being an organ donor and checked off the organ donor box on his driver’s license. His corneas were donated so that two people will be able to see. We are forever grateful to the family in California that donated their deceased child’s liver to Thomas. We are able to treasure 29 years of memories because of that gift. We ask everyone reading this to consider becoming an organ donor.
Thomas went to Alphabetland Preschool in Waipahu, Kanoelani Elementary School in Waipio, ASSETS High School, Kapi’olani Community College, and the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Thomas earned a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Theater in 2013. Thomas’ abilities in literature, poetry, music and theater were nurtured throughout his education by his teachers. We are grateful for all of his teachers throughout the years for their patience and inspiration.
Thomas loved theater. He was a gifted light designer for many O’ahu theaters including The Actor’s Group, Kumu Kahua, Central Theater Arts Academy, Playbuilders, Kennedy Theater, and many others. The Actor’s Group (TAG) became his closest theater family. That was where he shined. Thomas joined TAG when he was 15 and a sophomore at ASSETS High School. He began as a volunteer, tidying up the theater before shows and helping at the refreshment table at intermission. A brilliant student and artist, he quickly progressed to running TAG’s light board and went on to become TAG’s light and sound designer and engineer. When Thomas first volunteered at TAG, it was a tiny theater in Kakaako. TAG has grown a lot since then, operating the Brad Powell Theater at Dole Cannery, and now considered one of Honolulu’s finest community theaters.
Thomas was TAG’s light and sound designer for over 12 seasons which encompassed nearly 90 plays. He received six Po’okela awards from HSTC for light design, sound design, and service. Thomas was an unassuming person who was never one to stand out in a crowd; nonetheless, his passing leaves a gigantic hole in the heart of TAG. Eric Nemoto, TAG’s founder and president, said, “Were we given the option of going through every hardship we’ve endured over 25 years a thousand times over in order to get our Thomas back, we’d do it in a heartbeat.”
Thomas was also lighting instructor at the Central Theater Arts Academy based at Mililani High School. Director Cari Taira wrote: “Thomas was a very special part of our world. He inspired our students to put forth their best effort and to be resourceful in thinking when adding light to the stage. As a designer, Thomas always found a way to make ideas and stories come to life through his lighting.”
Thomas is survived by his parents Laurie (Arial) and Norman Tochiki. Thomas was very close to his sisters Sarah Tochiki and Rachel Tochiki (Asa Berg) and they have a strong bond that will remain forever. He is also survived by his grandmother Loretta Edmunds; aunts and uncles Patricia & Ronald Tochiki; Sharon & Wilfred Tochiki; and Lynn and Randy Imai; and cousins, Keri and Sheri Tochiki; Mandy Klipinitser (Vlad); and Kelsey Imai.
We will celebrate Thomas’ life on Monday, April 2, 2018 at Mililani Mortuary, Mauka Chapel. Visitation will begin at 5:30 p.m.; program will begin at 6:30. Casual attire, no flowers please.
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