Former prosecutor and judge brought compassion to court
Togo Nakagawa / 1923-2007
Retired Judge Togo Nakagawa, known as a compassionate man who never sought the limelight, died May 15 at his Honolulu home. He was 84.
Nakagawa was Honolulu's last appointed prosecutor.
"It's a loss to all. He was a good man to this community, and he served the community well," said Arthur Ross, a defense attorney who worked as a deputy prosecutor under Nakagawa. "He brought an evenhandedness in dealing with all his deputies."
Nakagawa, a veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II, had been struggling with Parkinson's disease and diabetes for several years, said Gloria Nakagawa, his wife of nearly 20 years.
"He was a nice man," said his son, John Nakagawa.
Family members remember him as a humble man who requested a private ceremony and would have balked at media attention to his death. Former state Sen. Joe Kuroda, Nakagawa's brother-in-law and a former staff sergeant in the 442nd's I Company, called him "a silent hero."
"He was someone who had great achievements and someone who was silent about what he did," he said.
For nearly a decade, Nakagawa served as deputy prosecuting attorney until Mayor Frank Fasi appointed him prosecutor in 1977.
After losing the primary election for the prosecutor's position, Nakagawa retired from the prosecutor's office in 1980, entering private law practice.
He became a part-time district judge in Family Court in 1982 and was appointed a full-time judge in 1986.
Nakagawa was better suited as a Family Court judge than a prosecutor, Ross said.
"You can be compassionate as a judge," he said. "I have a high regard for Judge Nakagawa."
Nakagawa retired as a judge at the age of 70, his widow said.
Born in Honolulu, Nakagawa graduated from McKinley High School. After World War II he served as executive secretary of the 442nd Veterans Club. In 1967 he graduated from George Washington University Law School, and was admitted to the Hawaii bar a year later.
He married Gloria Nakagawa, his second wife, in 1986 after the death of his first wife, Jane.
Survivors include his wife, son, six stepchildren, 18 step-grandchildren, seven step-great-grandchildren, brother Seigo and sisters Beatrice Ishibashi and Betty Kuroda.
Service will be 6 p.m. Tuesday at Hosoi Garden Mortuary. Family requests aloha attire and no flowers.