Geis’ hosting of children rekindles ties to the past

WAILUA — In one corner, a popcorn orchid exploded with sprays of golden yellow blooms while in a more shaded part of the yard, vibrant colors from a zygo cactus brought the coolness to life.

The two flowers are very instrumental to Jim Geis’ involvement with koi.

“The popcorn is from Fuku Hokama who used to bug me to start raising koi,” Jim said, while watching the group of pre-school students and staff from the Lihu‘e Hongwanji Nursery enjoy his Wailua property. “The cactus was given to me by Misao, Fuku’s wife. She gave me just one small segment, and from that, this is what happened.”

Jim said his involvement with koi began when Fuku, a longtime koi afficionado, became physically unable to care for the fish.

“That was about 13 years ago,” Jim said. “Since then, my son Tim has taken over, and we don’t even know how many fish we have.”

The Geis home in Wailua Homesteads has been literally converted to a facility which cares for koi, some of which are coveted specimen in the koi realm.

“It’s not about the money,” Jim said. “Koi are beautiful and strong fish and have great therapeutic value. When you watch the people enjoy the fish, you can see the change in them.”

On Friday, the Geis family opened the facility to a visit by a pre-school and its staff.

“This is the first time we’ve had a group,” said Loretta Geis, Jim’s wife. “Usually the kids come with their parents, but not as a group like this.”

Squeals of awe and joy punctuated the group’s trek amidst ponds, pools and tanks housing the various koi at the Geis home as Tim would send the fish into a frenzy by tossing food into the water.

“Fuku, after he couldn’t care for the koi anymore, used to spend hours on the bridge,” Jim said. “He was the inspiration for us building that facility which feature lights for evening viewing and enjoyment.”

Jim added that in the neighborhood, the elderly Yasutake gentleman also used to come and visit with his children.

“He would park himself on the bridge and tell his kids, ‘See you, later,’” Jim said. “They could spend hours sitting there enjoying the koi.”

Loretta, who works with the Kaua‘i United Way, said the visit by the pre-school was sparked by her co-worker Lori Almarza, and the visit was so momentous, Loretta took off work to be able to feed snacks to the pre-schoolers.

Both plants were in full bloom and Jim said his wife Loretta said, “Fuku and Misao found each other, again.”

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