MARGARET INOUYE / U.S. SENATOR'S WIFE
COURTESY OF INOUYE FAMILY / APRIL 2004
Margaret and U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye posed for this photo at a 2004 function.
Fatal cancer could not dim Maggie's grace
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Margaret Awamura Inouye was the attractive, quiet, smart girl from Roosevelt High School who learned to live in Washington as the wife of Hawaii's most famous political leader.
Inouye, 81, the wife of Hawaii's senior Sen. Dan Inouye, died yesterday in Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
A news release issued by Inouye's office said her death was due to complications resulting from colon cancer.
"As she has done throughout her life, Maggie handled her difficult situation without complaint, and with dignity and grace," Inouye said in a statement.
"Although her chemotherapy treatments would leave her drained, she always had a smile for you and she retained her optimistic outlook," Inouye said.
Family and friends in Honolulu recall Margaret Inouye leaving Hawaii to follow her new husband to Washington, D.C., as he attended law school at George Washington University.
"She had been a brilliant student. Her father was a prominent businessman, a jeweler and watchmaker," said Kazue Uyeda, who lived two doors down from her in the Aala Business Building downtown.
"She was a rather quiet person -- but lots of fun when you got to know her. She was not the glad-handing type, but she had to adjust as a politician's wife," recalled Doris Bitner, a childhood friend and roommate when she and Inouye attended Columbia University in New York City.
When Margaret married Dan Inouye after a whirlwind courtship, friends were surprised.
"It kind of surprised me. He was quite the rascal, you know," Bitner said.
"She was much more sedate and quiet. She was friendly when you got to know her and lots of fun when you lived with her.
"It turned out to be a long, long marriage," Bitner said.
"It was a fast romance," Jane Komeiji recalls. When Margaret rode with Dan Inouye in his car, Komeiji said Inouye would take corners especially fast so that Margaret would slide over to his side of the seat.
"She used to call them opportunity corners," Komeiji said.
Attorney Bill Yim, who went to law school with Inouye, called Margaret "class."
"Roosevelt was the English Standard high school and in our day they had all the beautiful girls and Margaret was one of the Roosevelt beauties," Yim said.
Former Big Island Sen. John T. Ushijima also went to law school with Inouye and recalls Margaret opening their home to them.
"We were all good friends. All the time that Danny was attending law school, she used to invite us to their home.
"She was the mother hen," Ushijima said.
STAR-BULLETIN / 1959
After winning the 1959 election that put him in Congress, Daniel Inouye and his wife, Margaret, relaxed with their record collection before leaving for Washington, D.C., that August.
In his release, Inouye recalled meeting Margaret in the autumn of 1947.
"She was already known as a poised, graceful, and gentle lady from a good family who was very much ahead of her time.
"Back then, few women went to college. But Maggie not only earned her undergraduate degree in education, she went on to earn master's degree in education from Columbia University in New York City," Inouye said.
Inouye said they courted for 18 months before marrying on June 12, 1949.
While he was at UH and then law school, "Maggie was the breadwinner," Inouye said.
"It was Maggie's salary ... that saw us through those first years of our marriage," Inouye said.
Yesterday, Margaret Inouye was remembered by officials from across the state.
State House members wrapped up their session around 1:30 p.m. with a moment of silence for Maggie Inouye.
Gov. Linda Lingle said, "Mrs. Inouye played a prominent role both publicly and behind the scenes in representing Hawaii in our nation's capitol."
Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said he always treasured his private conversations with Margaret Inouye.
"She was always very insightful and down-to-earth at the same time. After I lost my first election, she gave me a good pep talk and told me my time would come," Hannemann said.
Inouye's congressional colleagues also praised Margaret.
"Over the past year, I have often asked Dan about Maggie. He's always said, 'She's a trooper, she's doing the best she can.' That really sums it up well -- Maggie was definitely a trooper," Sen. Dan Akaka said.
"Beneath her gracious personality and the twinkle in her eye lay an unfailing common sense and remarkable instincts. To spend time with her was to understand why she was the single, biggest source of strength and inspiration in the life of our senior senator," said Rep. Ed Case.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie called Margaret the "First Lady of the Hawaii congressional delegation."
Funeral arrangements are pending.