Local business leaders Wesley and Phyllis Segawa are honoring Wesley’s parents Herbert and Kay Segawa for their many years of giving back to the Hawai‘i Island community.
They have established two $100,000 scholarship endowments at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.
The Kay Kiyoko Segawa Scholarship Endowment will provide scholarships to students who are pursuing a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs.
UH Hilo Chancellor Don Straney said, “Our alumni are the most important advocates for our university.” He continued, “They know firsthand the strengths and value of a UH Hilo education. We are most grateful to the Segawa family for their generosity and partnership. Their gifts will enhance our ability to recruit top-notch students who can succeed here.”
Wesley Segawa shared, “UH Hilo afforded me a great education right in my hometown and prepared me for the rigors of the engineering program. After completing the pre-engineering program at UH Hilo, I earned my engineering and master’s degree in business at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, building on what I learned in Hilo. UH Hilo was also the school of choice for my two daughters Dawn and Kimberly.” He added, “My wife and I wanted to do something special and lasting to thank my parents for the faith and trust they placed in me all these years, and for the sacrifices they made to help me be who I am today.”
Herbert Segawa grew up in ‘Amau‘ulu Camp 1, a sugar plantation village situated across the Wailuku River. After graduating from Hilo High School, he worked as a warehouse clerk and then at Hilo Sugar Company as an apprentice tractor mechanic. He married his high school sweetheart Kay Hatada in 1950 at age 20. They had four children, nine grandchildren and eight great grandchildren and enjoyed 65 years of marriage until her untimely death at age 88.
During his career Segawa worked as a mail carrier; manager of the Hawaiian Insurance Company and served in the Hawaii Army National Guard. He served as a state representative from 1974 – 1984. An entrepreneur, he opened a Dairy Queen franchise in 1975 and later Kaiko‘o Coffee Shop; Island Supply True Value Hardware Store; and Happy Tots, a children’s clothing store.
Kay Kiyoko Segawa, the youngest of seven, was the daughter of Japanese immigrant parents Sadaichi and Iye Matsuoka Hatada, who came to Hawai‘i from Kumamoto, Japan. She attended Chiefess Kapi‘olani School, Hilo Intermediate School and Hilo High School. After receiving her secretarial science certificate from Hilo Commercial College, Segawa worked in state civil service positions until she retired after 30 years of service as a personnel clerk at UH Hilo.