JOSEPH R. K. TOM / CASTLE HIGH SHOOL BASEBALL COACH
Coach Tom led Castle to ’94 title
Ever since he was a pint-sized Little Leaguer, Joseph R.K. Tom lived and breathed baseball.
Joseph R. K.
Coached Castle baseball for 17 years
Tom, who died July 11 from an aneurysm at his home in Kaneohe, symbolized Castle High School's baseball program for the better part of two decades. He was 51.
Family and friends will gather for his funeral tomorrow at the Hawaiian Memorial Park Mortuary. There will be a viewing at 5 p.m. with services to follow at 6.
"Joe Jr." guided the Knights to their lone state title in 1994, and Castle won the Oahu Interscholastic Association with a third-place state finish in '96. Tom, a physical education and health teacher, led the team to the OIA East title five other seasons before stepping down as co-head coach in 2007.
"What impresses you about Joe is the love and passion for the game of baseball," said Castle athletic director Richard Haru, who knew Tom since they were children. "Too many times today people don't keep it in perspective, but Joe always did. Because he respected the game, he loved the game, and maintained that passion through the years. That was something you admire and respect him for."
Tom - a standout shortstop at Kamehameha who went on to play at Washington State - was long known for his baseball knowledge, but even more so for his personable nature to friends and strangers alike.
"He was a great family man and friend in the community," said his father, Joe K.M. Tom, 82, who spent many years as his son's assistant. "Although he seemed to be very busy as a teacher, coach, father, he always had time to spend with the people he befriended. I never saw him without a busy day. He just loved life. It's just sad he died so young."
Tom earned seven straight championships as coach in the Kaneohe Senior Major Little League division, then coached Kahuku's varsity team for three years before heading to Castle for 17 more.
Tom is survived by his wife, Bobbie, children Jordan, Mari, Kainoa and Ka'ai, father Joseph, mother Earlene, and brother Paul Kalani.