On Saturday December 28, 2013 friends and colleagues of Clara Iwata gathered at the Empress Restaurant in the Chinese Cultural Plaza to celebrate and honor her retirement after 41 years of service to the University of Hawai’i. I was honored to have been asked to serve as MC for the gathering and share some opening remarks. Below is a transcript of my remarks.
Caption: My wife Shelley and me with our dear friend Clara Iwata, Saturday, December 28, 2013
Thank you friends for taking time out of your schedule to be here today to celebrate and honor our dear friend Clara Iwata as she retires after 41 years of service. As I look out into the crowd I am amazed to see so many people many of whom I personally have not seen in years. But we all have one thing in common: we were all each impacted in our lives by this special woman Clara who we gather here today to honor.
For this part of the program we are going to give everyone a chance to take the floor for a few minutes to say their peace with Clara. I kind of liken this to a funeral but the difference is Clara is ALIVE AND WELL and she can hear all the great things we have to say about her and let her know how much we truly love her. I’ll be going first and then afterward Beng Poh and Carl will take the floor to share their thoughts and then we’ll open up the floor to all of you.
So here are my thoughts when I think about Clara.
I truly believe in life that each person we meet or each person who comes into our life comes in for a reason and that there is a special lesson they teach us through their example. When I think of Clara I believe the lesson she taught me is to “live simply, and love deeply.”
Clara leads a very simple life. She catches the bus and walks EVERYWHERE. She eats vegetable sandwiches each and everyday. Very simple living.
But Clara also loves VERY DEEPLY. I’ve lost track over the amount of times she would spend picking up lunch for the ENTIRE OFFICE walking all over creation to whatever restaurant it is we felt like eating that day at and she would pick up lunch for us — day in and day out. She always put others before herself but she did it willingly and without complaint.
Clara spent her career as a clerk. We all know how much clerk’s DON’T make but as you heard she was able to travel the world on her humble salary. She led a blessed life because she lived simply and loved deeply. So through Clara’s example we see that it’s not how much you make in life — it’s how you make the most of what you have.
And so that’s the lessons I take from my time spent with Clara seeing her do her good works and that’s what I pledge to take with me in the years ahead — to follow her example. To live simply and to love deeply.
God Bless you Clara as you enter your next great adventure in life. Thank you for all you’ve done for me and us.