HIDETO KONO / 1922-2004

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Hideto Kono, former director of the state Department of Business and Economic Development, was people-oriented and had a good sense of humor, said his eldest son, Dwight Kono.

"He loved talking to people," Kono said. "People who've talked to him would say he was one of the most interesting persons they've ever met."

Hideto Kono died Oct. 2 after he suffered a cardiac arrest while snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands. He was 82.

Kono was born in a plantation community in Kaumana on the Big Island. He was a veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and served as an interpreter during World War II under the Military Intelligence Service.

He was one of 250 members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who were sent to the Military Language School in Camp Savage, Minn., where they underwent six months of intensive training to learn the Japanese language, historian Ted Tsukiyama said.

From 1965 to 1974, Kono and his family lived in Japan, where he served as president of Castle & Cooke East Asia, Ltd., a subsidiary of Castle & Cooke, Inc. that dealt with companies in Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

He served as director of the Department of Business and Economic Development for eight years under former Gov. George Ariyoshi.

Kono also served as chairman of the Public Utilities Commission, as well as president of the Japan American Institute of Management Science (JAIMS) from 1988 to 1994.

"Mr. Kono was a very good role model and a lifelong learner himself, and being so, he always demonstrated to us his continuing love to study and learn new things," said Blair Odo, vice president of academic affairs of JAIMS.

Kono also served as the chairman of Gov. Ben Cayetano's Blue Ribbon Panel on Living and Dying with Dignity.

When he was 70, he was selected as a recipient for the Emperor's Award from the Japanese Consulate for his public service.

Dwight Kono disclosed one of his father's passions.

"He loved history," he said. "He almost never read fiction. Ninety-nine percent of the books were non-fiction."

Kono is survived by his wife, Fannie; sons Dwight (Del), Dayne (Junko) and Daryn (Margaret); daughter Laurel (Michael) Hayama; eight grandchildren; and sisters Chieko Hamai, Kimiko Matsumoto and Amy Enright.

Service will be held at the Hosoi Garden Mortuary at 4 p.m. on Oct. 16. Visitation will begin at 3 p.m. The family requests casual attire and no flowers.



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