Isle-born Air Force navigator turned to real estate in retirement
George M. Shima / 1933-2006
George M. Shima, co-founder of the real estate company Spaces Ltd. and a part-owner of the Inn of the Sixth Happiness restaurant in Kalihi, died Dec. 28 at his home. He was 73.
"He was respected by his peers, who often described him as a humble and trustworthy man who was loyal to his friends and his country," said family friend Harvey Hakoda.
Shima founded and ran Spaces Ltd. with Walter Maeshiro after retiring from the Air Force as a major in 1972.
Shima, who shortened his last name from Shimabuku, was born on July 8, 1933, in Makawao, Maui. His parents moved to Oahu when he was a teenager, said his daughter, Alice Shima.
He graduated from Kahuku High School in 1952.
Alice Shima said her father enlisted in the Air Force immediately after graduation.
Hakoda said Shima's first assignment was as a navigator with the Military Air Transport Command. "While assigned there, he flew with the All Hawaii Air Crew on a C-97 aircraft piloted by the noted entertainer Don Ho," Hakoda said.
Hakoda said Shima's military awards and commendations included an Air Medal for flying on the first air rescue mission into North Vietnam. "He and his air crew completed a daring water rescue, flying an amphibious SA-16 aircraft," he added.
Shima later served as a navigator with the 6594th Test Group, based at Hickam Air Force Base, snaring parachuting capsules that contained film from orbiting Key Hole spy satellites. "Air Force navigators of his era guided their aircraft by 'shooting the stars' and relied on lesser electronic and communication systems than are available today," Hakoda said.
Shima was a member of the Shurei Club.
Funeral services will be held at 6 p.m. today at Hosoi Mortuary. Inurnment will be at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.
Besides daughter Alice, he is survived by wife Joy; mother Fumiko; sister Irene Whitaker of Columbia, Md.; and granddaughter Lynette Nishioka.