FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii Kai Marina patrolman Mike Topolinski, 86, will be honored today as Grand Marshal of the Hawaii Kai Christmas Boat Parade.
Topolinski ends second 30-year career
When it comes to being a workaholic, Mike Topolinski
is at the top of the class. Mike, 86, is winding up his second 30-year career. He spent two years during World War II in the Navy, spent 30 years as a firefighter and was with the Department of Education for four years. He has been a Hawaii Kai Marina patrolman for the past 30 years. Mike will be honored today as Grand Marshal of the marina's annual Christmas Boat Parade, starting at 5:30 p.m., near Hawaii Kai Town Center.
Mike was a firefighter with Honolulu Fire Department and then moved to the Fort Shafter Fire Department, where he became assistant chief. After that he was with the DOE, teaching fire safety to students, teachers and custodians for four years. He also preached against smoking to the kids. During his DOE years he worked part time as a Hawaii Kai Marina patrolman before taking the job full time. Besides rescuing boaters, Mike has also saved pets in the marina. He will retire Jan. 1.
Mike was named Hawaii's Federal Employee of the Year in 1962 while at Fort Shafter and was selected as the Cancer Society's Volunteer of the Year in 1979. He was honored to receive those awards, but the Roosevelt High 1941 graduate said his biggest thrill came playing football for the Rough Riders when he, a small guard, scored the winning touchdown against Farrington.
"My dream was to score a touchdown," he said. In the Farrington game, Richard Olmos threw a pass to end Johnny Bellinger and Johnny, about to be tackled, lateraled to team captain Mike, who ran 27 yards for the touchdown.
Mike made the Interscholastic All Star team for two years. Olmos and Bellinger also made the All Star team. Charley Warrington was another All Star on that team, coached by Jimmy Blaisdell. Bellinger, who went on to head First Hawaiian Bank, called the plays for Roosevelt even though he was an end. "He had a brilliant mind," Mike said.
Mike has been married to the former Jeanette Wong for 60 years. She was in Roosevelt's Class of 1943. I've known Mike for many years as my sister Beverly Wood was in his class and my brother Elliott Wood was in the class before him. We lived right across the street from Roosevelt during their high school years. So I was happy when Features Editor Betty Shimabukuro passed an e-mail on to me from Mike's son Tom Topolinski, informing us of his dad's upcoming retirement.
Mike doesn't want to retire but admits the years have taken a toll on his body. "I have arthritis in my knee," he said. "I drilled a hole in it and used to shoot WD-40 in it but that doesn't work anymore. I've got a recliner and I am going to sit and watch the world go by." Knowing Mike's active lifestyle and history, don't bet on that.
, who sold the Star-Bulletin in the streets of downtown Honolulu during World War II, writes of people, places and things in our Hawaii. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org