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A family affair: retiring chancellor and sisters honor parents through gift to Kaua‘i Community College

Scholarship fund will benefit students in financial need

University of Hawaiʻi
Margot Schrire, (808) 956-6774
Director of Communications
Posted: Jul 7, 2008

"Many hands and hearts are responsible for each accomplishment."
-Peggy Cha

Tsutomu Yamasaki and Fumie Yoshimori Yamasaki were only able to attend school until the 8th grade. Perhaps that is why they valued the importance of a good education and worked hard to ensure their daughters would have the opportunities they never had.

In their memory, Peggy Cha, Bette Uyeda and Jean Toyama have established a scholarship fund to benefit students in financial need at Kauaʻi Community College. Preference will be given to single parents and first generation college students. Cha is the Chancellor of Kauaʻi Community College who recently announced her retirement.

Tsutomu Yamasaki was born in 1914 in Makawele, Kauaʻi. He attended Makawele School and then lived in Waimea where he trained to be a carpenter. He moved toHonolulu in 1938 to work in defense projects for the military. In 1940 he returned to Kauaʻi to marry Fumie Yoshimori and together they moved to Honolulu. He worked as a carpenter in the construction industry until he died of cancer at the age of 45.

Fumie Yoshimori Yamasaki was born in 1920 in Koloa, Kauaʻi. She attended Koloa School and then studied sewing at the Waimea Sewing School. After moving to Honolulu with her husband, she worked at various manufacturing companies to support the family. In 1958 she and her husband opened their own dress shop called "Bette Jean‘s" on King Street. In 1963 she bought and opened a second shop on Hotel Street in the downtown area.

As a small business owner, Fumie designed all the dresses for her shop, produced the patterns and supervised the cutting and sewing of the garments. After her husband passed away, she also carried out some of the financial responsibilities of running the business including doing the payroll and paying appropriate taxes. In the early 1970s, when all her daughters had completed their education and were married and settled, Fumie sold her dress shops and began working at various manufacturing companies as a pattern maker and factory supervisor until her retirement in 1982.

A special dinner celebration, entitled "Growing a Legacy" will be held August 28, 2008 at the Kauaʻi Marriott Resort and Beach Club to reflect on Peggy‘s ten years as Chancellor and her vision for the college. Proceeds will benefit the fund established by Peggy and her sisters to honor their parents in perpetuity. "Since all three of us received scholarships and financial aid while attending college, we wanted to give others the same opportunity to pursue their educational goals," said Cha.

Dr. Peggy Cha was appointed Chancellor of Kauaʻi Community College in 1998 and has served in the University of Hawaiʻi system for more than 30 years. During her tenure as Chancellor, the college has become a University Center and now brings more than 30 baccalaureate and graduate programs within the reach of Kauaʻi residents. Additional accomplishments include founding the Academy for Future Nurses, developing Student Learning Outcomes, establishing a summer internship program and enhancing Electronics to a transfer level program, securing funding for renovations for the culinary arts facility and the new "One Step Center," and helping to establish the "Bridge to Hope" program to assist struggling single parents.

"She is a Student Services Chancellor," said Kauaʻi Community College Dean of Student Services Earl Nishiguchi. "She is all about the students and it has been an honor and a pleasure to work with her."

Jean Yamasaki Toyama has taught French at the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa for more than 30 years and received the Regents‘ Medal for Excellence in Teaching in 2000. For the last eight years she has also served as Interim Associate Dean of the College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature. In addition to her scholarly work, she enjoys creative writing and has had her poetry and fiction appear in local publications such as "Bamboo Ridge."

Bette Yamasaki Uyeda retired from the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa after 27 years of service as a financial aids and studentacademic adviser. Since her retirement, she has worked at Palama Settlement as fund development administrator and applied the knowledge and skills she developed through her work at the university to the non-profit sector.

"It‘s interesting that we‘re all UH alumni and worked for the UH system," said Cha. "In fact, two of our husbands are UH alumni and also worked for the UH. The university has truly been an important part of our family."

For more information about the Growing a Legacy event, contact Shirley Tani at 808.245.8377.

Kauaʻi Community College is situated on the island of Kauaʻi, the northernmost and oldest of the major Hawaiian islands. It is a two-year public community college and the only college on the island. Its 200-acre campus is located just west of the major town of Lihue. Kauaʻi Community College is committed to the students and community that it serves.

The University of Hawaiʻi Foundation is an independent, university-related, nonprofit organization whose purpose is to raise private funds according to priorities determined by the academic leadership of the University of Hawaiʻi and approved by the Board of Regents. Founded in 1955, the Foundation provides a full range of fund raising and alumni relations services for all 10 UH campuses.

The Centennial Campaign is an historic private fundraising initiative to raise $250 million to support the University of Hawaiʻi‘s commitment to our students, our community and our world. For more information about the Centennial Campaign, please visit