Thursday, October 14, 1999

Revered Kauai
businessman remembered


By Lori Tighe


He survived 23 days after being pulled off his IV, two days longer than the nurses at Kaiser Hospital had ever seen.

Wallace Yuukichi Otsuka, a prominent Kauai businessman and former Hawaii legislator, wanted to be the best at his death as he had in his life, said his daughter, Jeanette Chang. After suffering from an advanced stage of throat cancer, he slipped into "eternal sleep" on Oct. 5, said Chang. He was 89.

Otsuka, a Republican from Kauai, served twice in the Territorial Legislature and at one time was running three businesses simultaneously.

Info Box In the 1950s, he was the No. 1 Studebaker dealer in the U.S., and the top General Electric dealer and the leading Whirlpool dealer in Hawaii.

"He always told us, whatever we became, he wanted us to be the best we could," said Chang, "It wasn't a need to be No. 1. He had tremendous work ethics. Through sheer hard work, we could excel."

Otsuka served from 1941-43 in the Territorial Legislature as a representative from the Garden Island.

He withdrew as a candidate for re-election after World War II broke out, along with others of Japanese ancestry. But he returned to the House of Representatives from 1951-53.

"He was such a staunch Republican, an entrepreneur. That was his bent as long as I've known him," said Chang, 54.

Otsuka, chairman of the Republican Party on Kauai and a member of the GOP Presidential Inner-Circle, was invited to the inauguration of Presidents Nixon, Bush and Reagan in Washington, D.C.

He co-founded Otsuka's Furniture and Appliance Store in Kapaa and Hanapepe on Kauai. He also ran Kauai Petroleum of Lihue, distributor of Union Oil products, and was president of Wallace Sales & Service in Honolulu.

"When I was young, Oriental families normally favored their sons," Chang said. "My father cherished who I was. He sent both my brother and I to Punahou, when only 10 percent of the school was Oriental and mostly boys. I thank God for that."

The legacy he left to the community was his generosity, she said. He regularly donated to baseball, bowling and soccer teams on Kauai.

"It was often said if you wanted a free meal, just follow Wally Sr. to a restaurant and he would treat you," Chang said.

Born the oldest of eight children in Koolau, Kauai, he is survived by his daughter Jeanette Chang; brothers Jay, Harry and Jitsuo; sisters Florence Hoshibata, Masayo Tone, Sadako Kawamoto and Eiko Watanabe; and four grandchildren.

Services will be held at Kapaa Jodo Mission on Kauai at 4 p.m. Nov. 7. Casual attire is requested.

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