Howard Nakamura

Howard Nakamura

Friday, December 3rd, 1937 - Tuesday, August 18th, 2020
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Howard Kiyoshi Nakamura, age 82, passed away peacefully at home on August 18, 2020, surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Kula on December 3, 1937 to Morley and Jean (Nakano) Nakamura. He was raised in a family of educators, with his father a principal and his mother a teacher and a librarian; this encouraged his lifelong love of learning.

Howard grew up on Maui, attended Kaunoa School, and was a proud graduate of Baldwin High School (Class of 1955). He received a master’s degree in Engineering from Cornell University. After graduating from college, Howard returned to Hawaii and married his junior prom date, Janis Matsui.

Howard was a planner by nature. He began his career in Honolulu as an engineer with the State of Hawaii. Several years later, he returned to Maui and joined the County of Maui Planning Department as an engineer. He became Planning Director at the age of 31. After several years as Planning Director, Howard opened his own planning consulting practice. With a love for his community, when Mayor Hannibal Tavares reached out to him to rejoin the County of Maui, this time as Managing Director, Howard said, “Yes!” Howard later joined Alexander & Baldwin as a Vice President, where one of his key responsibilities was to guide the development of the Wailea Resort area. After A&B sold Wailea, Howard became President and Chief Executive Officer of Wailea Development Company, where he led Wailea until his retirement.

Howard was recognized throughout the business community as a person of quiet intelligence, insightful counsel and tremendous integrity. He cared deeply about his employees, serving as a mentor to many. He also had many friends who enjoyed his kind, generous spirit and warm personality.

Howard loved giving back to the Maui community. He served on many Boards, including the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum Board, Maui Economic Development Board, University of Hawaii Maui College Chancellor Advisory Council, Maui Memorial Hospital Board, and Maui Leadership Council of the Hawaii Community Foundation.

Other interests also kept Howard’s life rich and full. He and Jan were avid travelers, particularly after his retirement. They traveled extensively around the world, often with their loyal travel gang. Howard also was a huge sports fan and faithfully cheered on his beloved Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco 49ers. He enjoyed a friendly round of golf (often finishing at the 19th hole), a good book and a catchy country tune.

Howard had a remarkable career, but he always said that his greatest achievement was his family. He was a devoted family man, and immensely proud of his three children and five grandchildren. His greatest joy was seeing all five grandchildren playing together happily at his Wailuku home. He also loved attending their various sporting and other events, and taking them on family trips.

Howard is survived by his wife of 58 years, Janis Nakamura; children, Alyson Nakamura (Craig Nakanishi), Galen (Jo Ann) Nakamura and Lance (Cathy) Nakamura; and grandchildren, Amanda Nakanishi, Grant Nakanishi, Aaron Nakamura, Camryn Nakamura and Matthew Nakamura.

Private services were held. Remembrances may be shared online at The family respectfully requests that no koden be sent.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Ballard Family Mortuary
    440 Ala Makani Street
    KAHULUI, HI 96732
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Ballard Family Mortuary
    440 Ala Makani Street
    KAHULUI, HI 96732
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Posted at 03:31pm
Aloha Jan and the rest of the Nakamura clan. Please accept my condolences and best wishes.
I met Howard when he was the Planning Director. I found him to be very intelligent, dedicated and reserved. He was a good listener who paid attention to details of a presentation and the persons making the presentation. He was carefully evaluating the presenter as well as listening to the presentation. Fortunately for me Howard and I developed a lasting relationship.
My most vivid memory of Howard occurred at a chance meeting at the A & B shopping center. He was then a vice-president at A & B. He told me that an elderly Japanese woman, whom he did not know, had recently approached him and told him "Thank You!! I did not think that, in my lifetime, I would see an Oriental become a vice-president of A & B." He relayed that to me with a degree of uncharacteristic pride. Howard is not a pat on the back kind of guy. He is humble and prefers to praise others rather than himself. He had very good reason to be proud. He was the first Japanese person to be an executive of A & B on Maui. In a small tight knit community like Maui, it was a big deal. It confirmed the ideal that merit counts - that one can dream about achieving something significant and reach that goal. He will be forever remembered for that marvelous achievement. It is not easy to be the first. There is a big responsibility that comes with the achievement - the person selected has to prove that his selection was valid. Howard proved his selection was justified. His analytic mind, low key demeanor, execellent people person and effective decision-making earned him the plaudits of the business community and everyone else. His service made it easier for business executives to hire/promote based on merit and not any other artificial criteria. His service kept the "dream" alive and vibrant for the younger generation. So kudos to Howard and his family. It was my good fortune to have known and worked with a great guy. TAMOTSU TANAKA
P.S. JAN - Thanks for all your help.

Tricia Rohlfing

Posted at 03:27pm
Aloha Jan, Galen and the rest of the Nakamura Ohana -

So sorry to read of Howard's passing. I did not have an opportunity to meet him, but I am sure he and my father-in-law (Fred Rohlfing) crossed paths many times. I loved reading the tribute about his life in the Maui News... what a wonderful, rich life he had! I'm sure you find comfort in your memories of him and the stories shared by others (love what Hilton wrote!)

Hilton Unemori

Posted at 12:17am
To Jan and the family,
Howard was very special to my parents and to me. He was so supportive in the many phases of my parents life especially during the political years when the family did not embrace my father's ambitions in politics. Challenging times. And he was very supportive during my earliest years to get ECM started by allowing me to rent the office space in the Maui Medical Group building and allow access to his secretary Rene. in that 250 sf space at one point we had 11 people working that violated all of the employee rules. He never complained. Imagine!!! i remember we had people drop in to visit and we had to have employees step out into the hallway so that the visitor could visit.
But the real value of Howard was in his friendship and wisdom that we had access to. My father [as hard headed that he was on many ocasions; had to be as a pineapple farmer] clearly respected Howard and sought his advice. i myself sought his wisdom on ocasions and he was always so very thoughtful. We are so indebted to him for this access. We will keep him in our memories of the people who truly helped our family. We will keep him in our prayers. Our world as we know it on Maui will truly miss him, not only for how he helped our family, but also how he helped, as best he could, to make Maui a better place for our children and our grandchildren. Much Mahalo for a life well lived!

Coralie Willett (widow of Will Willett)

Posted at 10:14pm
Howard was a special man. He and my husband, Will Willett, had the most respectful "partnership" in the development of Wailea. With deepest sympathy
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Garret Hew

Posted at 06:57pm
To the Nakamura family,
We are saddened to hear of Howard's passing. I enjoyed working with him while he was at A&B. Howard was always interested in the water issues and I'm glad that I could share my knowledge with him. Please accept our deepest sympathy.
Garret and Mary Hew

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