Claire Kitagawa
(1964 - 2008)

Claire Kitagawa

March 1, 1964

October 2, 2008

Claire G. Fukuko Kitagawa was born in Honolulu at Kapiolani Women & Children's Hospital on March 1, 1964. When the family moved to Maui she was just 3 months and 3 days old. Curtis was already 3 years old, and Wade appeared 3 years later.

Claire attended Kahului Baptist Nursery, Kahului Elementary School and Maui High School (Class of 1982). She grew up on Lono Avenue where she was always outside playing, when she wasn't doing chores, under her mother Lorraine's watchful eye. A natural athlete, Claire loved baseball, her batting skills inherited from Grandma Doris Kitagawa also known as "Babe Ruth."

After her high school graduation, Claire joined Grandma Sakamoto in Palolo, where she commuted on TheBus to Kapiolani Community College and later, UH Manoa. Always busy, Claire also worked part- time at ABC Drug Store in Waikiki. In Palolo, she joined the International Karate Association to earn a brown belt. She also took hand-building pottery lessons and enjoyed making new friends in Honolulu.

On a UH exchange program, Claire attended California State College, Northridge for a year where she studied AND played really hard! She returned to graduate from the University of Hawaii with a degree in Elementary Education. Fond memories of friends and fun times in LA called for her return. With her education experience and love of children, Claire found a job at Mid-Valley, a facility and school for wayward teenagers. She also worked part-time at the Angel Network.

Claire enjoyed a social life with many, many, new work friends and roommates, and thus began THE PARTY LIFE of Claire G. in LA where she also played in the women's semi-professional baseball league, traveling around the country with the team as a right-fielder. Weekend trips were to Tijuana, Magic Mountain, Disneyland, Vegas, and endless numbers of get-togethers.

In 1998, Mid-Valley moved Claire back to Hawaii to open a facility for youth on the Big Island. This new company was called Children's Comprehensive Services. On Feb. 1, 2003, she started working with Care Hawaii (Hilo) where she facilitated social services for the mentally ill and handicapped adults.

We recently learned that Claire was nominated by all her clients by the SMI or severely mentally ill population for the State of Hawaii Heroes Award and since has been named a winner/recipient. Not only was she loved by her family and friends, but also by all of the disadvantaged and disenfranchised people that she helped. She was strict, yet loving and humorous, asking clients if they had taken a shower or brushed their teeth before they could get in her car.

Among many other things, Claire loved the New York Yankees, going to an actual game at Yankee Stadium around 1980. She enjoyed shopping, collecting baseball cards, Hot Wheels, sports memorabilia, cooking as well as eating, entertaining, and planning Halloween, Super Bowl, and Thanksgiving parties annually. She also loved sumo wrestling, yelling and laughing with Auntie Rene and Kalen at an exhibition at Blaisdell arena last year.

She loved Hawaiian music and singing, playing the ukulele or guitar and recently adding some religious music to her music library. Claire chose to stay on Maui with her family during her recent illness for treatments. She kept strong because of all the prayers from different churches, friends, relatives, and all the home visits from Mauians, as well as visitors from the neighboring islands AND the mainland.

The excellent and caring treatment she received at the Cancer Institute of Maui at Maui Memorial also helped her battle the cancer that had been formally diagnosed in April of this year. She was able to go to Las Vegas for Wade's Yakudoshi Birthday in May, and spent the summer under Lorraine's loving care, with Kapua and Ikaika visiting from Hilo as often as possible. Auntie Rene spent the entire summer helping to care for Claire.

Claire succumbed to the illness suddenly on Oct. 2 in the Maui Memorial ICU at 8:43 pm in the presence of her mother Lorraine, father Michael, brother Wade, his wife Yvette, nephew Hunter, and Door of Faith friends. Waiting at home for her were nieces Tishonna, Chynna, and Lauren. Sister-in-law Donna sent prayers from a short trip to Chicago. Pastor Barbara was on the mainland, but called and prayed for Claire over the phone.

Claire has joined Jesus and her brother Curtis, Grandma Sakamoto, Grandma and Grandpa Kitagawa, her pal Lynne Paganigan, and the many uncles, aunties, and cousins whom she loved and missed after their deaths. We will always remember Claire as the loving, thoughtful, generous, fun, and joyful person that she was. And as many of us have felt since her passing, she is no longer suffering; Claire is now at Home resting peacefully with our Lord.

– Lori Tsuhako

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Guest Book (55 entries)
Happy Birthday Claire! Ikaika and I will be celebrating with Sushi at Oceans in your memory! Not a day goes by without you in our heart! We miss you!
Kapua Namahoe
March 1st, 2018
Happy birthday Claire!!!! You are forever in my heart along with awesome memories in my head!!!! Love you plenty my friend!
Jen Lustig
March 2nd, 2015
50 years ago we held you in our arms and wish we could today!!!! You'll ALWAYS BE IN OUR HEARTS!!!! I guess our lord does not celebrate birthdays but we here on earth can't help but remember. Our LOVE to you and Curtis.
Mike and Lorraine Kitagawa (Dad and mom)
March 2nd, 2014
Happy 50th Birthday Claire! Thinking of you as I often do, about turning 50 this year and how I wish you were here so I could tease you about being older than me. We all miss you, Claire! Lifting a glass to cheer you up in heaven today! Love you!!! Jodi
Jodi Kimura (Friend)
March 2nd, 2014
Happy 50th Birthday Claire! We so miss you very much!! Although I know you all up there are watching over us guys down here. Until we meet again....I love you Claire!!!! Love, Emmy
Emerald Machida (Cousin)
March 1st, 2014
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"Happy Heavenly Birthday Claire! We miss you! You will always be in our Hearts!"
Kapua Namahoe
March 1st, 2020
"Claire...if only heaven had visiting hours. I miss you so, so much! Rest in eternal love!"
Cheryl Lawrence
October 1st, 2018
"Sending you some aloha on this day...still missing you everyday! Blessings for continued peace!"
Cheryl Lawrence
October 2nd, 2015
"Here's 50 candles plus one for good luck!!!! Miss you my friend!!!!"
Jen Lustig
March 2nd, 2014
"Happy 50th birthday, Claire. You know how much you are loved and missed. Hope that you are celebrating BIG!!"
Lori Tsuhako
March 2nd, 2014
"Here's that one extra good luck candle I am putting on your cake!!!! Happy 50th Birthday Claire!! We love & miss you very much!!!!"
Emerald Machida
March 1st, 2014
Lehua (Brown) Agarpao
March 1st, 2014
"Here's 50 candles, plus one for good luck….miss you so much, but know you are watching over all of us and for that I still feel your loving heart beating and entwined with the memories you shared with me…..Happy 50th Fukuko!"
Cheryl Lawrence
March 1st, 2014
"Wow, Fukuko...five whole years have passed with me hearing your shouts of "Manapua" as you drive pass by our house. Whoever said time heals never lost some one as dear as you, because we all still miss your beauty, grace, thoughtfulness and hugs..."
Cheryl Lawrence
October 2nd, 2013
"Hoping you are enjoying your "special day!" Miss you lots, Fukuko! A hui ho!"
Cheryl Lawrence
March 1st, 2013


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