WILFRED WATANABE / 1933-2005
Sincerity, humility were judge's traits
When Circuit Court Judge Derrick Chan was sworn in five years ago, he said he had the honor of doing so while wearing the robes of his mentor, Judge Wilfred Watanabe.
Chan said Watanabe and his family have honored him again, this time by choosing him to deliver Watanabe's eulogy during his memorial service.
"It truly is an honor," Chan said. "He was humble and intelligent and an excellent judge -- and a great man."
Watanabe, 72, died on Dec. 26 at Straub Clinic & Hospital. He began his career in 1981 at District Court, then moved on to Circuit Court in 1985 until he retired in 2003.
It was at Circuit Court where Chan began working for Watanabe as his law clerk.
"He was one of the most loved judges on the bench," Chan said. "He was responsible for mentoring hundreds of young attorneys. ... He always made himself available.
"He was very intelligent, had judicial temperament, so pleasant to work for. ... He was always a professional and a gentleman on and off the bench," he said.
"I think one of the main things I learned from the judge ... he impressed upon me the importance of being compassionate, the importance of kindness, sincerity and humility," Chan said.
Watanabe was born on May 31, 1933, in Boulder, Colo., but later came to Hawaii. He graduated from Roosevelt High School. After serving as an Air Force pilot, he graduated from Harvard Law School and was hired by former state Supreme Court Judge Frank Pagett's firm for a few years.
"He was a quiet guy. ... Will was very quiet and steady," Pagett said. "He wasn't one of those guys who makes a lot of noise about things."
Watanabe is survived by wife Jane; sons Lindsey and Rodney Suzuki; daughters Donna Gilbert, Jayna Muraki, Rhona Ogawa and Lisa; and mother Fusae Watanabe.
Visitation services for Watanabe are scheduled today at Central Union Church, 1660 S. Beretania St., at 5 p.m., followed by a memorial service at 6 p.m. The family requests casual attire and no flowers.