Thursday, October 14, 1999

Hilo entrepreneur Ichino
withstood fire, tsunami;
dies at 83


By Mary Adamski


Gary Ichino's Hilo market was demolished twice by tsunami, but he rebuilt and continued in business until his 1985 retirement.

In 1959, a fire started by lava flow burned his 200-acre coffee farm in Kapoho. "He prayed for water and got the tidal wave, that's the way he liked to tell it," Ichino's son-in-law Alan Garson recalled.

Ichino died Sunday at Hilo Medical Center. He was 83.

He was 23 when he founded Pick and Pay Super Market near Hilo Bay in 1938.

He was named the state's small-businessman of the year in 1966 for organizing the first cash-and-carry self-service market in Hilo.

The award from the Small Business Administration cited his other entrepreneurial efforts -- partnership in a meat market, in Hawaii Builders and Hawaii Coffee Co., operation of a restaurant during World War II, and development of a vegetable farm to ease the wartime food shortage.

The April 1, 1946, tsunami wiped out Pick and Pay on Kamehameha Avenue.

"They lived above the store," Garson said. "He got his wife and daughter up the hill, but it was April Fools' Day and he couldn't convince other people it was a tidal wave."

"He talked about bouncing back."

Ichino built a larger market. After the May 1960 tsunami again destroyed the store, he relocated to the Hilo Shopping Center and became first president of the first Hilo shopping center. He also opened a Pick and Pay branch in Naalehu.

The Hilo Lion's Club gave him an achievement award in 1966 for his work as co-chairman of their fund-raising project to build the road up Mauna Loa. He was active in the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce and Japanese Chamber of Commerce.

Ichino is survived by his wife Miyoko; daughter Priscilla Garson; brother Shigeru Ichinotsubo; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Funeral services will be 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Dodo Mortuary.

The family requests casual attire and no flowers.

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