Mrs. Teshima, a well-known fixture in the Kona community who exemplified altruism, hard work and entrepreneurship, died Tuesday. She was 106.
Shizuko “Mary,” “Grandma” Teshima died about 10:45 p.m. Tuesday with her caregiver and family members at her side, said granddaughter, Trudy Teshima Gramlich. The owner of Teshima’s Restaurant in Honalo had been ill for about two weeks prior to her death, Teshima Gramlich said.
“She felt like a grandma to everyone — everybody called her ‘grandma,’” whether you were part of the family, a friend or complete stranger, said Teshima Gramlich who will always remember her grandmother’s saying about life: “Be very kind to the people and service the people because it’s all about the people.”
Mrs. Teshima’s eldest great-granddaughter, Noelani Teshima Gramlich Greene, who lives on Oahu, added “she always told me you don’t have to be rich to be happy.”
Born June 24, 1907, Mrs. Teshima grew up in Honalo and married Fumio Teshima in 1927, who died in 1997. In 1929, Teshima’s General Merchandise Store opened. The store became a popular saimin stand before serving libations and food to soldiers stationed nearby during World War II. In the 1940s, the store was expanded to the restaurant it is today.
Teshima Gramlich said the family is planning services for Mrs. Teshima. The information will be made available later.
Like being kind and providing service to people, education was also important to the centenarian, Mrs. Teshima told West Hawaii Today in 2012, shortly before her 105th birthday. Despite never finishing high school, she encouraged others to value learning.
“The older I get, the more important I think education is,” she said in 2012. “With education, kids can think. If you don’t have an education, you can’t think. It’s so important to educate yourself.”
The Mrs. Shizuko Teshima Scholarship, which falls under the auspices of the Rotary Club of Kona Mauka, was established in 2007 in honor of her 100th birthday. She was also named an honorary Rotarian that year. The perpetual scholarship provides $1,000 annually to a Konawaena High School senior to further his education.
Rotarian Richard Harrison, who helped establish the Teshima scholarship fund, will remember her for her good nature and dedication to the community. He remembers the many Christmases when Mrs. Teshima would donate “big” checks to the foundation.
“She was very much a person who helped people out in the community and had outstanding ideas about education,” he said.
“She was just amazing. She was a bundle of energy. She was so strong and morally so squared away. Anybody that was around her had to pony up a little bit. … Everything was a good memory with her.”
Mrs. Teshima is survived by children, Haruo (Minnie) Teshima, Ernest Teshima, Irene Izumi and Ted Teshima; 12 grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.