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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, January 26, 2002

Edwin H. Honda, 79, retired circuit judge

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

Edwin Haruo Honda, a retired Circuit Court judge and member of the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team during World War II, died Jan. 8 after a long illness. He was 79.

Honda was born in Pe'ahi, Maui, in 1923 and graduated from Baldwin High School in 1940.

He was a Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet at the University of Hawai'i when Pearl Harbor was bombed Dec. 7, 1941, and became a member of the Territorial Guard that afternoon.

From 1943 to 1945, Honda served in Italy, France and Germany as a member of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd.

He completed his undergraduate degree at UH in 1948, then graduated from Michigan Law School in 1951. He was admitted to the Hawai'i bar later the same year and went into private practice, occasionally serving the Legislature as house attorney.

From 1968 to 1974, he was Gov. John A. Burns' appointee as director of regulatory agencies. He also served as chairman of the Board of Education.

He was appointed 1st Circuit District Court judge in 1974 and served in that capacity until 1984. Marie Milks, a lawyer at the time, said she often looked to Honda for guidance.

On March 16, 1984, Honda and Milks were named Circuit Court judges. Honda was her peer, but he remained a mentor as well, Milks said. Although he was a very private man, he also became a friend.

When her father became sick and eventually died, Honda helped her find the strength she needed to get through difficult times.

"He would call every day and say: "How are you doing?" she said. "He was the only one who did."

Milks said she thought Honda's strength had touched others as well, and by encouraging them to live lives of quiet strength and service, his legacy would continue far beyond the end of his life.

Honda's son, Maui lawyer Mark T. Honda, said regardless of his father's position at any point in his life, the elder Honda "always maintained dignity, respect, compassion and understanding for everyone."

Honda is survived by his wife, Carol Chiyoko Honda; son, Mark; daughter, Lynn R. Liu; sister, Tomiko Fujimoto; and four grandchildren.

A private ceremony was held.