LIHUE — Edith Tanimoto was a loving wife, protective and encouraging mother, doting grandmother, excellent businesswoman and an impeccable dresser.
Turns out, she was also pretty good at giving advice.
“Study hard, work hard, persevere, and you will be rewarded in the end,” she told her grandchildren. “I promise you that, and you remember that.”
She could make such a promise because that’s how she lived. She knew from experience the rewards that came with dedication, determination and fairness. She knew the lasting impact that caring and giving had not just on family and friends, but a community.
“Tu-T’s work ethic and good-hearted nature was instilled in us and helped shape who we are today,” said Egan Kouchi, using the family’s nickname for his grandmother.
About 350 people attended the celebration of life held Sunday at the Kauai Veterans Center for Tanimoto, who died on March 5 at the age of 86.
It was a celebration marked by smiles, laughter and songs, as Tanimoto was remembered for her influence on Kauai, especially during her 32-year career from 1961 to 1993 at The Garden Island newspaper. Tanimoto worked her way up to the role of publisher during a time when there were few women publishers. She found success by respecting and inspiring those around her. In return, respect and appreciation for her was returned islandwide.
She was a worldwide traveler, but her big heart was always on Kauai, said Pastor Ed Terui, who delivered the eulogy.
“Indeed, Edith was an extraordinary woman who came from a humble environment,” Terui said.
She was praised often for her sense of style.
“She always had nice clothes,” said nephew Arryl Kaneshiro. “Her hair was perfect. Her nails were always done. And of course, she always had those big glasses.”
Others emulated her.
“If you see anyone in the audience who matches that description, it’s most likely her sisters,” Kaneshiro said, as the crowd laughed. “They look exactly like her and dress exactly like her.”
Pastor Matt Higa spoke of the strong love Tanimoto had for her family, friends and her home, and how much others loved her.
He said a death is a moment that can bring people together like never before. In such moments, he said, it is time to forgive, to love, and say you’re sorry, to put aside differences and toss out grievances, as well as help and be kind to one another.
“That’s what Aunty Edith would want,” Higa said.
He said her body on Earth was just the shell, the outer casing, of who she really was inside. She will never be gone.
“Her real spirit, the true essence of who she really is, stills exists somewhere,” Higa said. “Her shell has left, but the person who she is, is still existing somewhere.”
Most people believe there is a heaven, Higa said, but not all have made their reservations.
“The difference between Aunty Edith and a lot of people in this world, she made reservations,” he said.
Ron Kouchi, whose wife, Joy, is Tanimoto’s daughter, said she was a tremendously smart businesswoman and an excellent spoiler of grandchildren. She would spend hours reading to her grandsons, Dan and Egan.
There were many priceless moments when it came to Edith Tanimoto.
“We appreciate everything that she did,” Ron Kouchi said.
Egan Kouchi said that shortly before his grandmother died, she told him that on the day she went to eternal rest, she didn’t want them to be sad or cry.
“But instead, you boys be happy and celebrate your Tu-T’s life. Don’t be sad, for I lived a long time. I met and fell in love with your Papa, we got married, we were blessed to have your mother, and Papa and I have been married for nearly 62 years.”
Egan Kouchi said they planned to honor her wishes.
“Tu-t, your friends and family are thankful for the time you shared with us here on Earth,” he said. “Your memory and spirit will live on and forever be in our hearts.”