Remembering one of the newsroom’s aunties

  • Nick Celario

Last weekend Saturday was like any typical weekend for me.

I got up in the morning, went to work in the afternoon, went home and relaxed at night.

But that Saturday night was not a typical one. As I sat down and casually scrolled down my Facebook feed, a hammer dropped.

When I read the very first sentence of the post, I knew exactly what happened, and I was in disbelief.

Many of you may or may not have known her, but Yukie De Silva — who worked in TGI’s advertising department — died last weekend after a swift battle with cancer.

And when I say swift, I mean swift.

It was just a few weeks ago when we all got word that she was diagnosed and that she was receiving treatment on Oahu. We knew the severity, but we were hopeful she’d recover and soon enough return to the newsroom.

To her family, friends and everyone who knew her best, I extend my deepest condolences.

I’ve talked about a lot of sports with a lot of people. In the five years I’ve been here at TGI, Yukie tops the list of people who I’ve talked with about sports the most.

More often than not, it was about two subjects — the Los Angeles Lakers and Kapaa High School football.

When I arrived here, I made fast friends with Yukie in the newsroom because of our shared fandom of the Lakers and Kobe Bryant.

I’ve met plenty of Kobe fans, but not one quite like Yukie.

Even since he’s retired from playing in the NBA, Kobe was No. 1 to her.

Many times, she’s jokingly called Kobe her boyfriend. (To Yukie’s husband, I’m sorry if this doesn’t fly with you, but I’m sure knew about this already. And again, so sorry for your loss.)

On several occasions, we’ve talked about those Lakers teams, which then almost without fail segues to her love for Kobe Bryant.

The Lakers talk kicked up recently with the team’s acquisition of LeBron James — which did not sit well with her.

I once asked her what she would do if someone gave her a LeBron Lakers jersey as a gift. She said she’d use it to wash her truck.

Since LeBron came to L.A., I’ve wondered if she would soften her stance on him if he delivered another championship to the Lakers. Sadly, we won’t know.

Yukie was also one of the more fervent football fans I’ve ever known.

After every Kapaa football game, the subject most times came up the next time I saw her at work — how great a win was, how disappointing a loss was, what players she thought played well, etc.

She was excited for the Warriors program’s success in the last few years after many seasons of hardly being in contention.

She’d often talk about her busy Saturdays — that she would watch her grandchildren play youth football in the morning, and then have to rush to the Kapaa games in the afternoons.

Though those days were long, I’m sure it was those days she enjoyed the most.

What I’m most grateful to her is that especially in those first few months since coming to TGI, maybe even years, she often was my point of contact to the local sports community.

If there was someone or something that I needed to track down, she often was very helpful. It was no surprise she knew a lot of people that I soon enough would eventually know, especially those from Kauai’s east side.

When I moved here, I learned very fast that “auntie” and “uncle” were terms of endearment or respect in Hawaii, even if you weren’t related.

Though I don’t think I’ve ever called her auntie, I’ve always regarded Yukie as such. She was a newsroom auntie.

The building has been a lot quieter since she left. Her presence is missed.

Aloha, and mahalo nui loa.

•••

Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or ncelario@thegardenisland.com.

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