Former mayor Stephen Kai Yamashiro passed away Tuesday (May 24) at Hilo Medical Center. He was 69.
Yamashiro had been in failing health for several years and was being treated for pneumonia.
Yamashiro was born July 15, 1941 in Honolulu and attended University Elementary School. He graduated from Punahou in 1959 and the U.S. Army Artillery Officer’s Candidate School, Fort Sill, Okla. in 1964.
In 1965, Yamashiro received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Hawaii and in 1969 he was awarded a law degree from Willamette University College of Law.
Yamashiro served as a State Deputy Attorney General, a County of Hawaii Deputy Corporation Counsel, and Hearings Officer for the Hawaii Public Employment Relations Board. Yamashiro served on the Hawaii County Council from 1976 to 1990, 11 of those years as Chairman.
Yamashiro was sworn in as Hawaii County Mayor on Dec. 7, 1992 and served until December 2000.
Yamashiro served on the Hawaii County Council from 1976 to 1990, 11 of those years as chairman.
Yamashiro was sworn in as mayor Dec. 7, 1992 and served until December 2000. Notably, the county had a budget surplus when he left office.
Yamashiro had a tough, no-nonsense style as a politician, although that bluntness sometimes rubbed people the wrong way.
Diane Quitiquit, who worked in the county’s Research and Development Dpartment under Yamashiro, credited him with getting Japan Airlines to fly direct flights from Narita to Kona. He also was instrumental in getting customs and immigration at
Kona International Airport as well.
Yamashiro also introduced the 100% Kona Coffee seal and was a tireless supporter of agriculture, the visitor industry, the film industry, the University of Hawaii and Big Island agriculture.
Yamashiro is survived by wife Della E. Allison.
Mayor Billy Kenoi statement on the passing of former Mayor Stephen Yamashiro
“Mayor Yamashiro loved this community, and was a loyal friend and mentor to many. He was always ready with advice and suggestions, sharing generously of his many years of experience as a community leader. He will be missed, and I want to offer my condolences to his wife Della.”
“As Hawai‘i County Council chairman and mayor, Mayor Yamashiro led our community through a very difficult transition period. As the last of the plantations closed in the 1990s, the Big Island was searching for new directions, and Mayor Yamashiro helped steer our island community into the future. His support and advocacy of sectors such as diversified agriculture, forestry and geothermal power are still paying dividends for our residents today. He knew where we needed to go, and he led the way. We are grateful for Mayor Yamashiro’s many contributions to our community.”
U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka’s statement on Mayor Stephen Yamashiro
“Steve Yamashiro was conscientious and worked tirelessly at problems that needed solving. I enjoyed working with him during his tenure as mayor. Among his many accomplishments, he was a strong supporter of the visitor industry, agriculture, the University of Hawaii, and the film industry on Hawaii Island. Stephen Yamashiro was a dear friend and I will always cherish his friendship. He will no doubt be sorely missed by the people of the Hawaii Island and the state.”