On Friday, July 24, friends and family came together to share memories of Shirley Naomi Kanani Garcia a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law graduate who passed away May 30. Garcia lived a meaningful life and is remembered lovingly by the people with whom she worked, lived and shared passionate ideals of social justice with.

Friends and family shared fond memories in remembrance of Garcia and the life she led. When her friend, Jade Wong, wanted to attempt a triathlon, Garcia spent hours training her to swim in the smooth, strong freestyle at which she excelled. When her sister, Margaret Garcia Dalzell, took up zumba, Garcia listened attentively to why she was so passionate about it, and then took it up herself, mostly as a way to support her sister. When Law Professor Chris Iijima was dying of a rare blood disease, Garcia stepped in to help direct the Ulu Lehua Scholars Program at the law school, nurturing and guiding it successfully through two stressful years.

“People like Shirley don’t come along very often,” Dean Avi Soifer told more than 100 people gathered at the ceremony. “She was a fierce fighter for social justice, while still being a gentle human being.”

Garcia had been the Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission’s longest serving enforcement attorney. She also played an especially important role at the law school during difficult times early in 2005, stepping in to lead and nurture the Ulu Lehua program.

Added Soifer, “Shirley truly embodied the qualities and the spirit of our namesake, Chief Justice William S. Richardson and served the community unstintingly.”

For more on Garcia, read the William S. Richardson School of Law story.