by Carol Zakahi
Kikuye Kadooka, also known as Evelyn, was born on February 13, 1921 in Kealakekua, Hawaii. She was the second surviving daughter to Suetaro and Tsuya Nishina. Her oldest sister Hatsuko died at childbirth.
Kikuyu “Evelyn” Kadooka, February 13, 1921 – March 2, 2012
Evelyn grew up in Holualoa with her older sister Hisae and younger sister Kimie. Hisae and her husband Masaki had four girls: Yoshie, Naomi, Maisie, and Suanne. Evelyn was really close to all of her nieces and their families. Younger sister Kimie and husband Katsutaka had sons, Kym and Ronan, and daughter Amee. Evelyn had lots of cousins while growing up in Kona and attended family get-togethers with cousins Walter Nishina, Horace and Dorothy Yanagi, and Sakae Oshima.
After graduating from school in Kona, she traveled to Honolulu and attended a business school, learning accounting. When she moved back to Kona, she married widower Tamotsu Kadooka in 1956. Tamotsu, or Tom as he was known to everyone, already had three children from the late Misao Oshima: daughters Janice and Dale and a two-year-old son Pat. Evelyn had an instant family and the instant responsibility of caring for three youngsters. She did her best to raise the children and helped Tom with the accounting and bookkeeping for the family nursery business. A few years later, daughter Lorna arrived, and later, son Chris was born.
With a family of seven to support, Tom and Evelyn struggled to survive. All of the kids helped in the nursery, planting plants, picking coffee, growing vegetables, and doing whatever they could to help the family. Tom and Evelyn worked tirelessly and, in 1976, were finally able to take their first vacation, where they visited California on a guided tour.
Their daughter Janice is now a professor at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. There she resides with her husband Raymond Uchida and son, Duane, who is an architect there. Janice’s daughter Janelle is studying to be a veterinarian in Seattle.
Second daughter Dale worked for many years as an elementary school teacher at Hawaii Baptist Academy. Sadly, Dale passed away in 2008 and is survived by her husband Dennis.
Oldest son Pat is a successful woodworker, making beautiful items out of Koa. He designed and made the urn that holds Evelyn’s ashes. The urn’s face has a symbol of an orchid which is named after the Kadookas: Orange Nugget Kadooka. Pat is married to wife Leigh Ann and they have two children: Cameron who works for Hawaiian Airlines and daughter Adrienne who is a psychological examiner.
Daughter Lorna moved to New Mexico and enjoys her work as an aestetician. Son Chris, who is also at the University of Hawaii, lives with his wife Cherilyn and has two children: Caitlyn who is ten and Chase who is eight.
Evelyn had successfully raised her children through some very hard times. Nonetheless, Evelyn and Tom enjoyed spending time with family and friends, and spent many weekends camping and fishing with Yoshie and Herbert Ushiroda, Akira and Julia Kawasaki, Nancy and Richard Shibata, Asako and Taichi Masuhara, and Matsuo-san. She was active in the Daifukuji Fujinkai and a charter member with the Kona Daifukuji Orchid Club (the first one in Kona).
In their later years, Tom and Evelyn were able to travel to visit with friends and see many orchids on display at the Japanese orchid festivals and in the islands. Evelyn also liked to travel with her sister Kimie to Las Vegas. Even though she was not too much a gambler, she enjoyed feeding the one armed bandits.
Our special times with the Kadookas as members of the orchid club were indeed so precious. Both of them opened their hearts and home to us and took us on an adventure of a lifetime with orchids. Evelyn never told us how old she was but her keen sense of knowing people made me think she had an old soul…like she was on the planet long before. She was wise.
Always behind her man, she was one that you might say, “She lived for Tom.” Being right by his side, they were very instrumental in doing a lot of research that resulted in a very successful business in Paauilo: the Hawaiian Vanilla company.
Life changed abruptly in 2004 when Tom was diagnosed with a heart condition; he passed away two months after having heart surgery. During Tom’s stay at the Honolulu hospital, Evelyn had a slight stroke in Kona and needed help to stay at home. Lorna returned to Kona to take care of her for two years. In 2007, she began to lose her short term memory and the family decided to move her to Honolulu where Janice, Dale, Pat and Chris could help take care of her.
She had her own apartment at the Weinberg Senior Residence in Maluhia in Liliha where she first lived with her granddaughter Adrienne and later with granddaughter Janelle. During the day, she walked across the street to the senior day program at Maluhia and did well for two years. She enjoyed her grandchildren, too. In 2010, she moved to the nursing section at Maluhia hospital when she began to have difficulty moving and needed more care.
She passed away peacefully on March 2nd at the age of 91.
The children and families of Evelyn have been blessed to have known her as a mother, grandmother, sister, cousin, aunty, and sister-in-law. As a friend, she was priceless.