Quiet editor held zest
for life and language

Hitoshi "Hank" Sato was an outstanding journalist who had a tremendous sense of history.


Hitoshi "Hank" Sato: He worked for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Advertiser and Maui News

Having that sense of history served him well. Sato, a former assistant city editor for the Star-Bulletin, died May 2 at Kuakini Medical Center. He was 77.

Sato was born and raised in Lahaina and attended Lahainaluna High School.

In 1949 he enlisted in the Army and trained in Monterey, Calif., where he was taught Japanese to interrogate prisoners.

After he was discharged in February 1953, Sato attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where he majored in journalism. Soon after he graduated, he worked as a reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin at its Big Island bureau.

Sato then moved to the Star-Bulletin's Maui bureau, but later took a job with the Maui News. After covering local news and the Legislature for the isle newspaper, he was hired at the Honolulu Advertiser.

"He wrote very many poignant stories on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor," Chuck Frankel, former assistant city editor and news editor, said. He also wrote about the Honouliuli internment camp on Leeward Oahu where many Japanese Americans were interned.

Sato then worked as a reporter for United Press International in Honolulu before he was transferred to its Tokyo bureau in 1966.

In 1970 he returned to Hawaii and worked as an assistant city editor at the Star-Bulletin.

Sato was a mild-mannered, quiet man who was respected by his co-workers, reporter Helen Altonn said.

After Sato retired, columnist Ben Wood and former business reporter Russ Lynch recalled how they would receive letters in the mail of clipped articles with typos circled by Sato.

"If I made a mistake in the column, I would get it in the mail," Wood laughed. "It was some sarcastic remark."

Wood noted that Sato was a valuable man on the copy desk, where he worked as a copy editor before he retired in 1993.

Sato's wife, Harumi, said he was fluent in Japanese and enjoyed every moment of his journalism career, especially covering politics.

She added that her husband was a patient man who enjoyed playing tennis weekly and fishing with his brothers in Maui.

He was also very proud of his brother, Tadashi, a well-known artist.

Sato and his wife celebrated their 50th anniversary last month.

Frankel said Sato will be remembered among his colleagues for his integrity and knowledge of local history.

"He knew what happened in Hawaii, and he was able to relate to local politicians and what they were striving for to make a fair Hawaii for everyone," he added.

Sato is also survived by daughter Lori Sato-Edmonds, brother Tadashi and sisters Fumiko Sugai and Keiko.

A private service was held for Sato on Monday at the Hosoi Garden Mortuary.

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