‘Shima’ bids aloha after 32 years with D.O.E.

LIHUE — There were more than 20 people Friday afternoon at the Moikeha Building.

“I told him it was nothing fancy,” said Lenny Rapozo, the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation director. “Look at this. There’re more than 20 people here.”

The people were gathered to celebrate Ross Shimabukuro Day, paying tribute to the nearly 32 years Shimabukuro, affectionately known as “Shima,” or “Mr. Shima,” worked for the Department of Education.

“I found out only 10 days ago that he was retiring,” Rapozo, who was once coached by Shimabukuro, said. “We could have done more if we had more time.”

The celebration was triggered by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., who in being politically correct, was garbed in the colors of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation’s three public high schools — a blue aloha shirt, red lei and a sprig of green fern tucked into his pocket.

“I extend my congratulations to Ross on his retirement from the State DOE following an outstanding career spanning nearly 32 years,” said Carvalho. “Ross will be remembered for his years of dedicated service to Kauai High School, starting in September 1981 as a physical education teacher before becoming the school’s athletic director in March 2001.”

During that period, Carvalho said Shimabukuro has devoted numerous years to enhancing youth education and the athletic program for the Kauai Red Raiders.

He spearheaded the school’s first student weight room and has coached numerous sports, serving under six principals during his tenure.

“I have five children,” said William “Bill” Arakaki, Kauai Area Complex superintendent. “During their years of growing up, they have worked with Ross. Now, most of them are working in jobs, and it’s a good feeling to share their success because they all had experience with him.”

An alumnus of the Elsie Wilcox Elementary School, Kauai High School and the University of Hawaii, Shimabukuro is the son of Choichi, a veteran of the 100th Infantry Battalion, and Doris Shimabukuro.

His school days were filled with playing sports including football, basketball and running track, leading to his hobby of being “an avid sports fan” while not playing golf, fishing or traveling.

He continues to play softball for the Hawaii Government Employees Association as well as for the community co-ed league.

Friday marked Shimabukuro’s final day at the Raiderdome, the name of the Kauai High School gym where he maintained his office.

Joining him in retirement, Carvalho said the proclamation also recognizes Charlene Koizumi, a 34-year DOE employee, Leilani Suenaga, with 29 years under her belt, and Philip Delos Reyes, the pool caretaker with 14 years.

“We celebrate this special day with Ross and bid him a fond ‘aloha’ for his many years of service and his contributions to the students and faculty of Kauai High School,” Carvalho said. “We also recognize his co-workers who are also retiring, for together, they were a team.”

Following the tribute, guests, including students, former and current coaches for Kauai High School, parents of student-athletes who have gone to Kauai High School, and Ross’ family were treated to a cake provided by Mark’s Place, one of Ross’s favorite places for lunch or dinner during the hectic KIF sports calendar.

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.


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