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Sunday, August 23, 2015

STANLEY KIYOSHI TAKAHASHI: A Fabulous Human Being

My brother Stan, the individual who had the most influence on my life, passed away at the age of 84.  I had just visited Las Vegas, where he and his wife Ann, were being cared for by her sister Jean and husband Bob.  It was clear Stan had only a few days left, and his condition was such that passage, on balance, was probably best for the family.

I could have titled this posting GRATITUDE...NOT GRIEF, AGAIN, which was a Huffington Post article I wrote six years ago upon returning home from Kuakini Hospital, when my wife, after 47 years of marriage, passed on.  We had a celebration of Pearl's life (that's the final photo I took of her the day before she made that fateful trip to the hospital emergency room--which, I just noticed can be discerned in the background), but not a funeral.  Since then I've only been to one funeral, as I was asked by his wife to provide the eulogy for my best friend, Paul Yuen.

Stan was born in a period when Hawaii was a Caucasian-run community.  His personality was shaped by those times, and he was extraordinarily helpful and nice to a fault, maybe even subservient.  After the war and rise of the survivors of World War II, the sociological and political climate of Hawaii shifted to Japanese-American leadership .  This was when I grew up, and my personality included a measure of assertion that blended with aloha.  My younger brother was even more personally confident, and became an Army colonel.

My mom was influential on all of us, and Stan, in particular, best followed her advice by exercising before breakfast, always followed by a fruit for breakfast.  He became a judo black belt and could play tennis with both hands.  I was third singles on my McKinley High School tennis team, but I don't think I ever beat him.  He went on to the University of Hawaii where he graduated as a civil engineer.  He did graduate studies at the University of Michigan and UCLA.  He went on to become a noted researcher at the Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory at Port Hueneme (NCEL).  

I recall sitting at a lunch table in Japan with several engineering professors, when one of them, Toshitsugu Sakou, Dean of Marine Sciences at Tokai University, asked me if I had any brothers.  I mentioned Stan, and he wondered if that was the researcher at NCEL.  He was impressed, for he remarked that Stan was the foremost marine structural engineer.  He led a number of group visits for Navy and engineering society teams to Japan.

As he was ten years older than me, much of what I came to be I owe to him.  However, one memorable anecdote is that he left his white wedding shoes at home when he and Ann left for the mainland.  One day I noticed it, and it fit, so I wore it to high school.  My friends wondered why I was wearing white shoes, for no one in those days did so.  That night on TV Pat Boone became a big star wearing white bucks.  I became a fashion trendsetter.  While this was pure accident, I learned something about how to innovate, and I give Stan credit for that.


When I graduated from high school, he provided a transition to college for me by finding me a summer job at the Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory.  I also lived with his family, not only then, but for three subsequent summers.  However, I thought, what he was doing--measuring deformations in concrete beams--was so boring that I majored in chemical engineering.  I eventually obtained a PhD in biochemical engineering, and wanted to return home.  However, the University of Hawaii did not have a chemical engineering department.  I was accepted into the general engineering department, but soon after I arrived, they disestablished it.  Fortunately for me, the Civil Engineering Department accepted me.  Stan's eminence with a couple of members of this group was so significant that when I came up for tenure, they were the difference makers.

Ann and Stan's home in Oxnard is almost magical.  In their backyard are two orange, lemon and grapefruit trees each.  For the half century they lived there, they were able to pick oranges, lemons and grapefruits every day.  The climate of Oxnard (typically 60 F in mid summer when it is 95 in Los Angeles, 60 miles south, and 115 in Santa Paula, 15 miles east) allows these trees to fruit all year.

Stan and Ann had a ukulele and halau group that entertained throughout Southern California.  Their two children, Diane, is a Patsy Cline professional performer, and Warren, with  his group, entertain at weddings and nightclubs during the weekends.  I'm afraid he had no influence on me when it came to music

What made Stan fabulous was his personal demeanor.   It was how he treated people.  The dedication to principles and culture.  He was a leader of his community and a pioneer in marine structural engineering.   He will be missed, but without regret, for he lived a grand and fruitful life.  There is no question, if there is a heaven, he made it.

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Tropical Depression Kilo will strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane, but at this time is projected to track a meandering path sufficiently west of Kauai:


Typhoon Goni is at Category 3, 115 MPH, but gusts hit a record 159 MPH over Ishigakijima, affecting Miyakojima today:


The eye is sufficiently west of Kumejima that the effects should not be devastating.  Goni then will move to the west side of Kyushu and perhaps cause problems for Busan, South Korea by late Tuesday.

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