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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Community leader Ralph Honda dead at 96

By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer

Ralph Honda, 96, a community leader who was a founding member of the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation and worked tirelessly for better relations between the United States and Japan, died May 9 at Pali Momi Medical Center.

Ralph Honda
Honda served in a variety of government positions throughout his business career. He was president and director of Kuakini Hospital, president and director of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, and was a founding member of the Japan-America Society of Hawai'i.

"He was the type that if he took any project on he was going 150 percent," said Vivian Umaki, one of his three daughters. "He was unafraid to ruffle feathers to get things done."

Honda's work with the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation, established in 1959, was noted by its chairman as an integral part of the effort to improve relations between the United States and Japan.

CPASF promotes understanding between the U.S. and Japan by offering scholarships — 113 since 1974 —Êfor study in Hawai'i and Japan.

"It was largely Ralph Honda's personal dedication that has made the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation what it is today — a well-established and highly prestigious scholarship endowment," said Howard Hamamoto, chairman of the foundation. "He was a loyal American who was convinced that a good relationship between the U.S. and Japan, based on mutual trust and understanding, was extremely important, and he dedicated his life to achieving that goal."

Honda met Japanese Emperor Akihito a dozen times in Japan and Hawai'i.

Honda was born in Honolulu on October 30, 1907 to Japanese immigrants Jiro and Mitsu. He graduated from St. Louis College in 1927. His business career started as director of the Young Men's Buddhist Association.

He was preceded in death by wife Ellen Masako Nakao. He is survived by his daughters, Madge Takemori, Peggie Tsukimura, and Vivian Umaki; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.