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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, July 22, 2006

'I always knew this day would come'

Takamori memorial service photos

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

Lianne Takamori, right, daughter of Jason and Colleen Takamori, received comfort from a friend at last night's services.

Photos by JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser

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A collage of photos of Jason and Colleen Takamori was set up at the Mililani Memorial Park chapel for last night's service. Friends remembered the sacrifices the couple made for their daughter's education.

JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Lianne Takamori, at right in pink mu'umu'u, watched as performers celebrated her parents' lives during the service.

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Lianne Takamori knew she would have to bury her parents one day.

"I always knew that this day would come," she said last night to a crowd of more than 400 gathered to celebrate the life of her parents, Jason and Colleen Takamori. "But I never, ever, imagined in my life that it would happen at the same time, especially since they were both so young."

Both were 53 on the evening of July 6. They had dropped Lianne off at the airport earlier for her trip back to the Mainland, and later decided to stop at a Tantalus lookout. There the Takamoris were shot to death, along with taxi driver Manh Nguyen, the victims of what police have called a senseless act of violence.

Lianne Takamori, 23, had called her mother that night on her cell phone to assure her that she had arrived safely in California. Colleen Takamori told her daughter they had gone to Tantalus to take pictures of the city lights with their new digital camera. Moments later, they were dead, Lianne Takamori realized the next day.

The daughter said there was one small piece of comfort that she is taking away from that horrifying night two weeks ago.

"My parents had a very sweet ending," she said at last night's service at Mililani Memorial Park and Mortuary. "And I'm happy that through the horror they must have felt, at least they were together. And I know that their spirit is looking down watching us right now."

Jason Takamori was an accomplished jazz musician and plumber. Colleen Takamori was a master cross-stitcher who loved to read mystery novels. But of all their passions, said friends of the Takamoris, none was more important to them than raising Lianne, who graduated just last month with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of California Irvine and was about to embark on a promising new job the day she learned of her parents' deaths.

Terri Pang, 50, who helped introduce the couple some three decades ago and was among Colleen Takamori's best friends, called Lianne the couple's life work.

"I think they wanted to give her so much more than they had," Pang said. "They had sacrificed so much." Her mother gave up working and focused on taking care of Lianne at home while her father worked, at times, three to four jobs.

"He'd work his regular plumbing job Monday through Friday, and then he would play music on the weekends." He would also have side plumbing jobs, she said.

"They struggled for a long time to sock money away for her to go to college," Pang said, noting that they paid her tuition at Sacred Hearts Academy and UC-Irvine.

Construction workers Faaope Fetui, 34, and Ivan Uemoto, 30, remembered Jason Takamori as the "big-hearted" plumber who ate lunch with them while they worked a year-long project at Honolulu International Airport.

"He was so proud," Uemoto said. "His goal was to see his daughter graduate."

Jason Takamori's colleagues in the music world also did not forget the man who was always the first to volunteer to play at a service when one of their own died.

Last night, three bands he was associated with through his life played music during the ceremony. The Ebb Tides, a variety music group and Jason Takamori's first band, played Hawaiian and pop music selections before and during the funeral, alternating playing time with the Monday Night Band, a 17-piece jazz ensemble.

The Ebb Tides played "You Raise Me Up," popularized by Josh Groban, in tribute to Colleen Takamori. The Monday Night Band did one of Jason Takamori's favorite jazz standards: "There'll Never Be Another You."

Later, the Watanabe Family band played at the reception.

Cynthia Lee Calverley recalled how her sister, Colleen Takamori, often accompanied her husband to his musical gigs and that the two also liked to listen to jazz at Chuck's Cellar in Waikiki.

Lianne Takamori said: "A musical celebration they couldn't have asked for anything more."

Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at gpang@honoluluadvertiser.com.