Voice of Minnie MouseBy Lori Tighe
leaves legacy of art
Rick Ralston remembers hearing his mom say in a high falsetto voice, "Hiya Mickey!"
Marjorie Elizabeth Ralston of Honolulu was the first voice of Minnie Mouse.
She died July 22 in Queen's Hospital from osteoporosis complications at age 86.
"She was always very shy about it," said Rick Ralston, recalling his mother's Minnie Mouse beginnings.
Her love of art inspired Ralston to begin painting shirts, which evolved into Crazy Shirts Inc., one of the most successful T-shirt companies in Hawaii.
Fresh out of high school in Los Angeles, Marjorie Ralston took a portfolio of her sketches to unknown animator Walt Disney in 1928 and became hired as his 13th employee. Called an inker, she colored in the illustrator's shapes in an old Los Angeles garage that served as the first Disney studio.
"I'm not sure we ever thought of it as an art form back there in the garage on Hyperion Boulevard," Marjorie Ralston said in a 1971 interview with the Star-Bulletin.
"We were the beginning. The animators, the artists, an office girl and Walt Disney. The rest of us idolized him."
As Disney walked around her desk one day talking like Mickey Mouse, she answered back like Minnie and became recruited to speak for the demure mouse. She only did one cartoon as Minnie and then begged out of it because of her shyness, Rick Ralston said. But she stayed on as an inker for almost 13 years before retiring to raise her two sons in L.A.
People continued to ask her to talk like Minnie Mouse, but she bashfully declined saying, "I get stage fright."
But now and then she would talk like Minnie for her sons.
Rick Ralston remembers growing up surrounded by Pinocchio cartoon cells on the walls of his bedroom.
They were castaways from his mother's job.
"We used to laugh when we realized many years later, Mom could have brought home boxes of those Disney cartoon cells. Little did anyone know they'd be worth $1,000 each. We could have been set for life," Ralston said.
Times for the Ralstons weren't all cartoons. Marjorie and Bradford Ralston divorced when Rick and his brother, Bob, were boys. Their mother struggled to raise them herself, working then as a licensed practical nurse. Stretched too thinly, Marjorie Ralston had a breakdown, Rick Ralston recalled. Neighbors contacted the Salvation Army to send food baskets to their house.
Ralston came to Hawaii in 1962 and began painting T-shirts. He began Crazy Shirts in 1964, and his mother came to Hawaii in 1968. Bob Ralston, Rick's brother, played with the Lawrence Welk band and enjoyed success as a musician.
In honor of his mother's roots, Ralston added Minnie, Mickey and Donald Duck's original 1933 versions to his shirt designs in 1973. He presented the first Minnie Mouse shirt off the assembly line to his mom.
In Hawaii, Marjorie Ralston spoke out on various issues through the years in letters to the editor of Honolulu newspapers.
She supported the old Waikiki historic landmarks and opposed unchecked development in the name of tourism.
Services were private. She is also survived by son Bob; and grandchildren Randy, Diane, Tyler and Paige.
Frances C. Abreu, 86, of Honolulu died Friday in Convalescent Center of Honolulu. She was born in Eleele, Kauai. She is survived by daughters Margaret Smith, Catherine Okazaki, Edna Estrella and Rosemarie Souza; brother Lawrence Cambra; sisters Mary Reis, Emily Mendonca and Adeline Christian; 12 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren. Mass: 11 a.m. Friday at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa. Call from 9 a.m. to noon. Graveside services: 10 a.m. next Tuesday at Holy Cross Church in Kalaheo, Kauai. Casual attire. No flowers.
Severino N. Agtunong, 88, of Eleele, Kauai, a crane operator for Kekaha Sugar Co., died last Tuesday in Hale Omao Nursing Home. He was born in the Philippines. He is survived by wife Glenna; sons Glenn and Michael, and daughters Melanie and Gladys. Services: 3 p.m. Friday at Borthwick/Kauai Mortuary. Call from 1 to 2:45 p.m. Burial: Hanapepe Filipino Cemetery. Casual attire.
Conrad Barrionuebo, 37, of Honolulu died July 23 in Queen's Hospital. He was born in Honolulu. He is survived by mother Patricia; brothers Peter, Patrick, Paul and Raymond; sisters Wanda Pu'u, Ida Harvest and Annette Paik, and companion Allen Hubbard. Private services.
Mark D. Bobbitt, 38, a manager in the entertainment industry, died Friday. He was born in Dallas. He is survived by mother Patricia Crain; stepfather Jack Coyle; brother Carl; sisters Roxann Barron, Susan Matsuura and Cheryl Johnson, and grandmother Millie Coyle. Services on the mainland. Memorials suggested to The Texas B.A.S.S. Federation Youth Program, c/o Randy Dumas, 3735 High Vista, Dallas, TX 75244.
Kurt L. Braun, 46, of Riverside, Calif. died Friday in Parkview Hospital in Riverside. He was born on Kauai. He is survived by wife Sally; daughters Yvette and Danielle; mother Bernice A.; brother Stuart A.; stepdaughters Teri Mulloy, Lisa Mendoza and Kristie Kaaihue; stepson Robert Kaaihue, and nine stepgrandchildren. Mass: 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Catherine's Catholic Church in Kapaa. Call after 9 a.m. Burial: Kauai Veterans Cemetery in Hanapepe. Casual attire.
Apolanaria A. Butac, 75, of Omao, Kauai, a retired cover seed worker for McBryde Sugar Co., died Thursday in Wilcox Hospital. She was born in the Philippines. She is survived by husband Benjamin; daughter Josiline Acosta; sons Romy and Robin; sister Tecla Rombaoa, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Call from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Borthwick/Kauai Mortuary. Overnight visitation: family residence at 4460 A Punee Road in Omao. Services: 4 p.m. Monday at St. Michael's Episcopal and All Angels Church in Lihue. Call after 3 p.m. Burial: Kauai Memorial Gardens. Casual attire.
Dan D. Dollente, 35, of Kailua died July 17. He was born in the Philippines. He is survived by wife Evelyn; children Randy and D.J. Dollente and Diana Rose; parents Federico and Florencia; brother Romy, and sisters Rosemarie Steen, Perlita Dulay and Jackie Dollente. Services: 7 p.m. Friday at Nuuanu Mortuary. Call from 6 to 9 p.m. Mass: 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Anthony Church in Kailua. Call from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the mortuary. Burial: Valley of the Temples.
Ancleto S. Elefante, 74, died Wednesday in Castle Hospital. He was born in the Philippines. He is survived by wife Cecilia; sons Filemon, Damien and Benjamin; daughter Teresa; brother John Pedro, and sisters Lourdes Palacol, Irene Lagran and Satiaga Pugaoisan. Services: 7 p.m. Friday at Borthwick Mortuary. Call from 5 to 9 p.m. Mass: 7:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Anthony Church in Kailua. Burial: Hawaiian Memorial Park.
Xyanzippi Zannie Farias, 63, of Waianae died Sunday at home. She was born in Honolulu. She is survived by husband William Jr.; son William III; daughters Adrienne Piilani, Williamette Farias, Victoria Concepcion and Francine Ulu; brothers Samuel Kapu Jr., Edward Carreira and George Wond, 17 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Services: 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Borthwick Mortuary. Call from 6 to 9 p.m. Services: 11 a.m. Monday at the mortuary. Call from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Burial: Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery.
Miguel Mike Gapol, 62, of Makaha died last Tuesday in Ewa Beach. He was born in Kuloa, Kauai. He is survived by wife Laura; sons Miguel Jr., Mark and Derek; daughters Constance, Victoria, Gaylin and Ginger; father Domingo; brother Geraldo; sisters Migula and Sophie, 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Memorial services: 11:30 a.m. Friday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl. Casual attire.
Yoshi Higa, 94, of Kaneohe, a former custodian for Bayview Golf Course, died July 27 in Kaneohe. He was born on Okinawa. He is survived by daughter Ethel S. Teshima; sons Takeo Oshiro and Thomas M. Higa; 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, and a brother and a sister in Okinawa, Japan. Private services.
Hirokichi Hoshino, 90, of Ewa Beach, who retired from Oahu Sugar Co., died Wednesday in St. Francis-West Hospital. He was born in Ewa. He is survived by wife Harue; son Stanley K.; daughters Frances H. Matsumoto and Barbara S. Tomita, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Private services.
Robert L. Bobby Ing, 64, of Honolulu, a Honolulu Police Department sergeant, died July 25. He was born in Honolulu. He is survived by daughter Veronica Seto; parents Rudolph and Gladys; companion Elma Hiatt; sister Rita Mae Lee; brothers Alvin and Rudolph K.Y., and a granddaughter. Services: 10:30 a.m. Friday at Community Church of Honolulu, 2345 Nuuanu Ave. Call after 8:30 a.m. Burial: Diamond Head Memorial Park. Aloha attire. No flowers.
Harriet Jardine, 69, of Honolulu died Wednesday in Queen's Hospital. She was born in Honolulu. She is survived by daughters Loretta Gomes and Peggy Trammell; brother John Hookano; sisters Momi Quiddaoen, Pua Harp and Hana Burget, and two grandchildren. Services: 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Borthwick Mortuary. Call from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Burial: Hawaiian Memorial Park. Casual attire.
Donald P. Joseph, 89, of Kaneohe, a retired bus driver for MTL Inc., died July 19 in Aloha Health Care Center. He was born in Kona, Hawaii. He is survived by sons Donald Colburn and Cyrus and Gaylord Joseph; daughters Delthia Akiu, Dorothea and Cynthia Joseph and Celestia Hall; brothers Wing Chee, Whai Wing, Ainsley and Arthur Seto; sister Lucy Say, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Services: 11 a.m. Friday at Mililani Downtown Mortuary. Call after 9 a.m. Burial: Valley of the Temples. Casual attire. No flowers.
Florendo A. Juan, 85, of Aiea, a retired laundry operator with Queen's Hospital, died Thursday at home. He was born in the Philippines. He is survived by wife Bienvenida; sons Florendo Fuji Jr., Richard and Benjamin; daughters Gloria and Vicky Juan-Followell; sister Silvina Gonzalo, and six grandchildren. Mass: 7 p.m. tomorrow at St. Elizabeth Church in Aiea. Call from 6 to 9 p.m. Services: 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the church. Call from 8 to 10 a.m. Burial: Valley of the Temples. Casual attire.
Edwin M. Kuniyuki, 90, of Honolulu, a retired teacher and counselor for Kalakaua Intermediate School, died July 27 in Queen's Hospital. He was born in Kalihiwali, Kauai. He is survived by daughters Susan Kuniyuki and Anne Oklan; brother Yoshio; sisters Matsue Sakamoto and Katsuyo Takahashi, and three grandchildren. Memorial services: 6 p.m. Friday at Nuuanu Memorial Park Mortuary. In lieu of flowers, donations suggested to Edwin M. Kuniyuki, 233 South Vineyard Blvd. Casual attire.
Eddie Y. Kuwazaki, 76, of Honolulu, a retired electrician at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, died July 24 in Straub Hospital. He was born in Puunene, Maui. He is survived by wife Asako Edna; sons Benson A. and Gregory H.; daughter Leta Y. Wakamatsu; sisters Yachiyo Unebasami, Hanae Teramae and Judy S. Smith; brother Tameharu, and four grandchildren. Private services.
Luke Mui Kwock, 92, of Honolulu died Wednesday at home. He was born in China. He is survived by sons Henry W.C. and Yin Kwai Kwok, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Taoist services: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday at Borthwick Mortuary. Burial: Hawaiian Memorial Park.
Joseph S. Maeda, 80, of Honolulu, a retired painter, died Wednesday in Kuakini Hospital. He was born in Honolulu. He is survived by brothers Muneto and Thomas M., and sister Gladys S. Fukumoto. Services: 6 p.m. Thursday at Hosoi Garden Mortuary. Casual attire. No flowers.
James H. Miyamoto, 77, of Honolulu died July 13. He was born in Hawaii. He is survived by daughter Glenice Yoneda. Private services.
Elizabeth L.K. Aunty Momi Nahinu, 63, of Honolulu, a Hawaiian music instructor at Radford High School, died last Tuesday in Honolulu. She was also a retired Hawaiian music instructor for the Kamehameha Schools extension program. She was born in Honolulu. She is survived by sons John Miha and Joseph and Ulysses Nahinu; daughters Elizabeth Pua Hilo, Bernie Manini, Mamo Miha and Yolanda Brown; brothers Clement Miha and Donald Ahina; sisters Pauline Morante and Virginia Chuberko, and 10 grandchildren. Services: 10 a.m. Saturday at Hawaiian Memorial Park Mortuary. Call after 9 a.m. Burial: Valley of the Temples. Casual attire.
Setsuko Nakata, 73, of Waianae, a retired teacher with Waianae Baptist Church Preschool, died Thursday at home. She was born in Pearl City. She is survived by husband Everett; daughters Evelyn, Naomi and Iris; mother Kami; brothers Takemitsu, Edwin and Lawrence, and sisters Nobuko, Suemi, Amy and Rose. Services: 6 p.m. Saturday at Borthwick Mortuary. Call after 5 p.m. Private inurnment. Casual attire. No flowers.
Bunichi Nunokawa, 83, of Honolulu, a retired carpenter from Kamehameha Schools, died July 27 at home. He is survived by wife Fusae; sons Robert, Wayne and Stephen; daughter Marion Miyamoto; brother Dr. Walter; sister Mabel Hadano, and eight grandchildren. Private services.
Alvin T.C. Pereira, 72, of Koloa, Kauai, a proprietor for Al's VIP Taxi Service, died Sunday at home. He was a World War II veteran. He was born in Koloa, Kauai. He is survived by daughters Tonya A. Manarpaac, Carla Manglallan and Tamara Tammy Valmoja; son Russell; brothers Herb, Jack and Leroy; sisters Mildred Abreu and Betsy Mayfield, and 10 grandchildren. Services: 9:30 a.m. Friday at Koloa Church. Call after 9 a.m. Inurnment: Kauai Veterans Cemetery in Hanapepe. Aloha attire.
Ida K. Poopaa, 81, of Wahiawa, a licensed practical nurse at Wahiawa General Hospital, died last Tuesday at home. She was born in Paia, Maui. She is survived by sons Arthur Jr. and Stanley A.; brother James Mawae, 10 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren. Services: 11:30 a.m. Thursday at Mililani Mortuary-Waipio, makai chapel. Call after 9:30 a.m. Burial: Mililani Memorial Park. Casual attire.
Harry K. Purdy, 81, of Nanakuli, who retired from Lone Star Industry, died July 23 in Queen's Hospital. He was born in Kohala, Hawaii. He is survived by sons Harry K. Jr., Manase N. and Leroy K.; adopted son Paul N.; daughters Vivia N. Waiolama, Sarah K. Ohelo and Holly P. Terukina; adopted daughter Rachael K.; hanai daughter Annette H. Perez; brothers Dan and Martin; sister Kalili Apakuka, 32 grandchildren and 35 great grandchildren. Wake services: 7 p.m. Thursday at Mililani Mortuary-Waipio, makai chapel. Call from 6 to 9 p.m. Services: 10:30 a.m. Friday at the mortuary. Call after 9 a.m. Burial: Mililani Memorial Park. Aloha attire. No flowers.
George K. Shimabukuro, 61, of Honolulu, a retired maintenance mechanic with the U.S. Postal Service, died Wednesday in Straub Hospital. He was born in Koloa, Kauai. He is survived by wife Mae H.; daughters Sandy H. Mikami, Lori Y. and Jan A. Shimabukuro and Joy A. Ferreira; mother Sueko Oh Young; brothers Toyohiro Shimabukuro and Clayton Oh Young, and four grandchildren. Services: 6 p.m. Friday at Hosoi Garden Mortuary. Cremation to follow. Casual attire. No flowers.
Verna K. Sumiki, 55, of Hawaii Paradise Park, Hawaii, a salesclerk for Variety Shoes, J C Penney, and Gems, died Saturday in Hilo Hospital. She was born in Olaa, Hawaii. She is survived by husband Robert S.; son Greg; brothers George Mai, Godwin Nishikawa, Frank Kamahele, Joseph Elderts and Richard Figueroa; sisters Alana Warren, Marjorie Toma, Blanche DeConte, Verdarine Peralto, Leinani Imoda and Puanani Mukai, and three grandchildren. Services over the ashes: 7 p.m. Thursday at Dodo Mortuary. Call from 6 to 9 p.m. Casual attire.
Wallace S. Wally Tsukamoto,69, of Honolulu, a retired president for Tsukamoto Plumbing, died Sunday in Queen's Hospital. He was born in Honolulu. He is survived by wife Grace; daughter Linda Tomei; brothers George and Richard, and a granddaughter. Memorial services: noon Saturday at Nuuanu Memorial Park Mortuary. Call after 11 a.m. Casual attire. No flowers.
Micaela V. Valvieja, 99, of Lihue, Kauai, died July 26 in Wilcox Hospital. She was born in the Philippines. She is survived by daughter Juliana Alayvilla; son Mauro Valvieja; brother Benny Valmoja, 15 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren. Services: 9 to 10 a.m. Thursday at Immaculate Conception Church. Burial: Kauai Memorial Gardens.
Kelemete F. Vesi, 59, of Honolulu, a retired security guard for Royal Security Guard Co., died July 23 in Honolulu. He was born in Western Samoa. He is survived by daughter Lomana M.; brothers and sisters Lafitaga Tuu, Mulifusi F., Ioane, Vaaosea and Sa Vesi, Nila Sene and Liaina Lafaele, and a granddaughter. Services: 11 a.m. tomorrow at Mililani Downtown Mortuary. Call after 10 a.m. Burial: Sunset Memorial Park.
Sally S. Yamanaka, 80, of Honolulu, a retired supervisor at Alfred Shaheen Garment Factory, died last Tuesday in St. Francis Hospital. She was born in North Kohala, Hawaii. She is survived by husband Richard I.; daughters Kathleen and Linda Yamanaka, Barbara Miyamoto and Sharon Abe; brother Minoru Sanemitsu; sister Misayo Fujimoto, seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Memorial services: 11 a.m. Saturday at Makiki Christian Church. Call after 10 a.m. Casual attire. No flowers.
Shin S. Yamasaki, 58, of Kurtistown, Hawaii, a jeweler, died July 27 in Queen's Hospital. He was born in California. He is survived by brothers Hideo and Kazuo, and sister Yoshiko Mizutani. Memorial services: 7 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Mortuary. Call from 6 to 9 p.m. Casual attire. No flowers.
Lucy K. Young, 80, of Honolulu, who retired from the Public Works Center, died July 17 in Queen's Hospital. She was born in Honolulu. She is survived by adopted daughter Betty Cazinha; hanai daughters Elizabeth Kahalepuna, Henrietta Palenapa, Noe Akiona and Gloria Barcelona; brother John, 18 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. Services: noon Saturday at Diamond Head Mortuary. Call after 9 a.m. Burial: Diamond Head Memorial Park. Aloha attire.