HIDEO "LEFTY" KUNIYOSHI / 1921-2007
Big Isle official helped develop Democratic Party
Hideo "Lefty" Kuniyoshi, a retired Hawaii County Liquor Control director and veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II, died July 19 at his home in Hilo. He was 86.
Retired legislator Helene Hale, one of two Democrats on the county Board of Supervisors, the forerunner of the Hawaii County Council, remembered Hilo-born Kuniyoshi contributing to the rise of the Democratic Party in the 1950s.
Democrat Kuniyoshi was one of the first people hired as a board aide at a time when the board served limited functions such as supervising road construction, Hale said.
Kuniyoshi, who was helping run his family's jewelry business, agreed to take the county post but only if it were made a civil service position, she said.
"Lefty was a very smart guy," she said. "He was a quiet kind of person."
Kuniyoshi remained in civil service positions, rising in the ranks because of his integrity as well as his abilities, said Herbert Matayoshi, mayor from 1974 to 1984, which included Kuniyoshi's service with the Liquor Department.
"He was a really fine gentleman, really upright, a straightforward kind of guy," Matayoshi said.
Kuniyoshi played "no games" in the critical post of controlling liquor licenses, Matayoshi said. "There was no such thing as hanky-panky. You could trust him all the time."
He is survived by wife Clarissa; daughters Ardis Ono and Susie Kuniyoshi; brothers George, Masao and Richard; sister Lurline Ikeda; and two grandchildren. Private services were held. No gifts or flowers.