NATALIE IKU (née BESSHO) ODA (LEE) born 25 July 1921, in the Bronx, New York City, New York. Her parents moved to Hollis, New York, in 1923 where they had their second child, Kenneth (1926 – 1988, Texas). She graduated from Northfield Mt. Herman School in 1940, then attended a business school in New York City. Subsequently Natalie worked as a typist/stenographer at Methodist headquarters (1941-1943), then Assistant to the Registrar, Union Theological Seminary (1943-1945) in New York City. She moved to Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, in 1945 to marry her first husband, Iwao Oda – a US Army combat veteran who served with the famed 100 Infantry Battalion, 442 Regimental Combat Team, F Company. Iwao had met Natalie in New York City while he was recuperating from a wound received in Italy during his unit’s action during World War II. That union was blessed with a daughter (Ellen – 1947), and a son (Robert – 1948). The family moved to Kailua on the windward side of Oahu in 1955. Iwao passed away in 1982 (cancer). After the passing of her mother in 1997, Natalie married her second husband, Richard Lee, in 1999. Richard preceded her in death in 2005 (complications arising from a stroke). On Wednesday, August 12, 2020, Natalie was found unresponsive in her apartment at The Good Samaritan – Pohai Nani Senior Community, Kaneohe, City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii. Natalie had been in good health and spirits in the days leading to her passing.
A dry recitation of dates and places does not capture the extraordinary character of Natalie, and words alone cannot express the breadth and depth of her commitment to making the world a better place through her active dedication and involvement in community service throughout her life. At various times she was a volunteer, member, board member, officer, Director, Executive Director, President of more than a half dozen community service organizations; a Governor’s appointee to the Windward Subarea Health Planning Council, one of the first women to join the Kailua Rotary Club, and lobbied and wrote grants to fund senior care and other philanthropic organizations. Natalie had a natural enthusiasm and exuberance for life that she expressed through active involvement in the community – a fact recorded in numerous letters, certificates, and proclamations from local, city, and state bodies celebrating her efforts. In 2016 Natalie was recognized as a "Living Treasure" and feted by the Kailua United Methodist Church. In 2020 Natalie received a Certificate of Recognition from the City Council of Honolulu for her service to the Kailua community. The thing is, Natalie was never interested in recognition and performed her services to the community because she believed that is the duty and responsibility of everyone. Being recognized for her efforts by others was always a surprise to her. While she is no longer physically present, her spirit and example lives on in everyone she touched.
Natalie is survived by her daughter Ellen Owens (Michael), son Robert Oda (Collette), five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. We weep at our loss, and rejoice at her victory over death.
A Celebration of Life will be held on April 18, 2021 at Kailua United Methodist Church at 11:30 a.m. Please contact the Church Office [808-261-6238] to register or e-mail at email@example.com by Friday, 4/16/2021.
Arrangements Provided By:
Notice #: 0001322876-01