Big Island’s Rep. Clift Tsuji passes away

Hawaii Rep. Clift Tsuji, 75, passed away at the Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu Tuesday.

Tsuji represented House District 2 including Keaukaha, parts of Hilo, Panaewa and Waiakea.

Tsuji was born on Jan. 20, 1941, and raised in the Big Island’s plantation town of Papaikou. He is a 1959 graduate of Hilo High School and completed his post-secondary degrees at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the University of Washington, Pacific Coast Banking School.

Rep. Clift Tsuji was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2004 and was chairman of the Agriculture Committee. Among his many awards he was named the Hawaii Farm Bureau’s Legislator of the Year Award in 2015.

Tsuji served in the U.S. Army Reserve, 442nd Infantry, Company B, Hilo, from 1959-1965.

He was also active with the Hilo Medical Center Foundation, Hawaii Island Japanese Community Association, Pacific Tsunami Museum, Hiroshima Kenjin Kai, Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce and the Kumamoto Kenjin Kai.

Sen. Brian Schatz said Tsuji was earnest and hardworking.

“Rep. Tsuji was low-key in style but a firm fighter for the needs of the people of the Big Island,” Schatz said. “He will be especially remembered for his advocacy of agriculture and its essential role in the economy and culture of Hawaii.”

Gov. David Ige said the representative was a “quiet man with a big heart.”

“He was a passionate leader and a vigorous advocate for the Hilo community,” He said. “His legacy of service will be remembered by his constituents and all Hawaii Island residents. He was a personal friend, and I am going to miss his presence at the State Capitol.”

The family has requested privacy at this time. Services are pending.

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