Kilauea couple named state Grandparents of the Year

Takayuki and Sally Kimura of Kilauea had no idea they were even nominated to be considered the state’s Grandparents of the Year, part of National Grandparents Day celebrations locally.

But their sneaky granddaughter, Jaymie Salazar, nominated them, and they flew to O‘ahu this past weekend to receive their award, and a free trip to Las Vegas as well.

“I am in shock,” said Sally Kimura. “We are both very excited. We didn’t expect it.”

“It was wonderful. The people there were very nice,” she added.

Salazar, a social worker on O‘ahu, came across the nomination form at work, she said.

“I totally lied,” said Salazar about getting the information from her grandparents for the nomination form. “I told them my job wants to know all this information.”

She did not care if they won, she said. “I just wanted to honor them.”

“When I called them, I told them I had some good news. My grandma said, ‘Are you pregnant?'” said Salazar, a newlywed. “My grandpa asked, ‘Did I get in trouble?’ We just bust laughing.”

The Kimuras have been married for 47 years, and both of them love to help out in the community and with their seven children and 19 grandchildren. Sally, 67, and Takayuki, 81, who were both born on Kaua‘i, are really excited about the Las Vegas trip, Sally said, since Takayuki has never been there.

“I wanted him to go one time,” she said, adding, “I never did win a trip before.”

“My grandpa has only flown three times in his whole life,” Salazar said. He won’t say it, but you can tell “he’s excited to go,” Salazar added.

On her nomination form, Salazar said, “My grandparents are the backbone of our family, and have improved our lives by demonstrating how love and patience can build a strong family. They are truly an inspiration to each and every person that knows them. They are the glue that holds our family together.”

“They’re really great kids,” said Sally. “The love for a grandchild is different, hard to explain. I love them very deeply.”

“God bless my granddaughter, Jaymie, for being thoughtful. She’s a special lady,” Sally said.

Sally said that the secret to her family’s closeness is the lesson she learned from a Portuguese neighbor during the plantation days. “‘The family is most important,’ she said, and I never forgot that.”

It could also be the great family breakfasts held every Sunday at the Kimura home. After church, almost 15 of the Kimura clan get together to eat some of Sally’s cooking.

“It’s a nice time,” she said, but they missed it last Sunday because the Kimuras were on O‘ahu accepting their awards.

“She cooks like five dozen eggs every Sunday,” said Salazar. “There are always a lot of people.”

Sally also “enjoys helping the children when they are sick, and helping to baby-sit when needed.” It makes it easier when all but one of her kids, and most of her grandkids, still live on Kaua‘i.

“I wouldn’t change it for the world,” said Sally.

Sally is a retiree from Mahelona Hospital, and enjoys spending time helping others. She volunteers at preschools and food distributions, and teaches religion at her church, which she also helps clean.

“All those little things, I really enjoy it,” she said. “It gives you a good feeling when you help somebody.”

“You only have a certain time to live, you should enjoy it,” she said.

Salazar said her grandfather, who assists the elderly by driving them to and from activities, “really inspired me to go to school. My grandpa said from when I was young, ‘You better go to school, no excuses.’ I told him last week that now I can’t stop.”

The Kimuras were honored on Sunday, Grandparents Day, at a ceremony at Ala Moana Center’s center stage. They received the trip to Las Vegas, presented by and courtesy of Vacations Hawaii, along with a koa wood bowl and leis.

“It was something real special. It was an honor to be there. We never had anything like that before,” said Sally.

Staff Writer Tom Finnegan may be reached at 245-3681, ext. 226.

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