Kiyoshi Hamakawa, 92, passed away peacefully on April 13, 2022, in his hometown of Hilo, Hawaii. Survived by his wife, Mikako (Nagami); sons: Bruce (Shirley), Curt (Diane), and Eric (Sara); and daughter Donna (Chris) Paulachak, he was predeceased by daughter Fay Alison. He also leaves grandchildren: Nicole and Kara Paulachak; Micaela, Marisa, and Kylie Hamakawa; hanai granddaughter Mackenzie Hamakawa Smith; step-grandchildren Kimberly (Marshall) Miyoshi and Lance Muranaka, and step-great grandchildren Tyler and Tanner Miyoshi. Also survived by brother-in-law Teruo (Tamayo) Nagami, and numerous nephews, nieces and cousins.
Kiyoshi was the fourth of six children born to Bunkichi and Masame Hamakawa, and was predeceased by siblings Kazuo (Betty), Fumio (Emiko), Tsuyuko “Sue” (John) Blackwood, Shigeru (Evelyn), and Masaru (Miriam). Known to his close friends as “Kio,” he grew up in the Villa Franca section of Hilo and spent many hours playing sports from football to basketball and baseball to track.
Kiyoshi attended Kapiolani Elementary, Hilo Intermediate, and graduated from Hilo High School in 1947. He enrolled at UH Manoa but transferred to Springfield College after one year because of his love of basketball and his desire to play the sport at the very school where the game was invented by Dr. James Naismith in 1891. While in college, he banked on his athletic prowess by boxing professionally in nearby Holyoke to earn money for school. Kiyoshi graduated in 1952 with a degree in physical education.
After graduation, Kiyoshi enlisted in the U.S. Army and fought in the Korean War. In 1954, he returned home from the war and married Mikako, his wife of 68 years. He began his teaching career at Konawaena High School where he also coached basketball, before returning with his young family to Springfield College in 1958-60 to pursue his master’s degree in biology. Upon his return to the Big Island, he resumed his teaching career at Keaau Intermediate and Hilo Intermediate before landing his dream job as vice principal at his beloved Hilo High School, a post he held from 1965 to 1984.
During his tenure at Hilo High, Kiyoshi made a positive impact on the lives of many students. His only professional interests at the time were centered around the students at school and service to the community. When his last child, Fay, graduated from Hilo High School in 1984, Kiyoshi retired from school service. For his many contributions, the senior class recognized him as an honorary graduate of the Class of 1984, and he was proud to “graduate” a second time alongside his daughter Fay. In 2016, the Hilo High Foundation honored him by recognizing him as a Distinguished Educator.
Fiercely loyal to the town in which he was born, schooled, spent his career, raised his family, and died, Kiyoshi will forever be tied to Hilo and his beloved Hilo High School, which dubbed him “Mr. Viking” at his retirement.
Private services held. No flowers. No Koden (monetary offerings).