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Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Tadao Kawamoto,
the ‘Barber of Koloa,’
dies at age 89 in
his home on Kauai

By Harold Morse

They used to call Tadao Kawamoto the "Barber of Koloa."

"And when he retired, the entire south side of Kauai held a retirement party for him. He took one of his barber chairs down to his house at Poipu and still cuts the hair of his old customers for $3," Bob Gerell, who developed Old Koloa Town, said in a 1984 story.

Kawamoto of Poipu, Kauai, who owned Modern Barbershop in Koloa for some 50 years, died Dec. 24 at home. He was 89. He was born in Kukuiula, Kauai.

Kawamoto continued cutting hair for some years in the garage of his Poipu home, a 1990 Star-Bulletin story said. The barber chair in the garage was said to date from 1911.

How long did he keep on cutting hair?

"He stopped about three years ago," said wife Lillian.

Was he still charging his old customers $3?

"That's right; I think so," she said.

Kawamoto grew up with the late Sen. Spark Matsunaga, also born in Kukuiula.

"He was always the slowest runner because he was the youngest," Kawamoto told the Star-Bulletin in 1990. "So we used to call him Sparkplug to get him to run faster. The name came from a comic book character."

Kawamoto also is survived by a son; three daughters; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Friends may call after 9 a.m. Saturday at the Koloa Hongwanji Mission. A funeral service begins at 10 a.m. The family requests casual attire.

E-mail to City Desk

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