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Remembering Judy Kitagawa, a long-time volunteer who dedicated 77 years to our patients and employees

We recently lost one of the Auxiliary’s long-time beloved hospital volunteers, Judy Kitagawa. Judy passed on October 14, 2021 at the age of 95.

The evolution of our hospital on Maui started in 1884 with Queen Kapiolani urging the legislature of the Kingdom of Hawaii to appropriate funds to the Board of Health to construct a hospital. Her success led to the first hospital site on Lower Main and Mill Street in Wailuku. It went through many face changes along the way and in 1927 the County of Maui assumed full responsibility for its operation, management, and financial support. On September 15, 1952, the hospital became known as Central Maui Memorial Hospital. It was there at Central Maui Memorial Hospital that Judy Kitagawa became cemented in the love and caring of the hospital and its patients and the people who worked there.

Judy graduated from Baldwin High School in 1944 and started her hospital career as a temporary Clerk Typist, a position she thought would be just that….temporary. That temporary position became permanent, and she moved her way up to Administrative Secretary and a career of 38 years with the hospital as it continued to evolve through many name, face, and operation changes.

Upon her retirement her love for the hospital and its surroundings continued. She became a volunteer for the Auxiliary. Her tenure with the Auxiliary spanned over 20 years.

Those who knew her will remember that she was the friendliest person, always had a warm inviting smile on her face and wore the best hats ever seen! Being a cancer survivor she kept shaded from the sun in a stylish fashion. She volunteered for the Auxiliary for 20 plus years working mostly in the gift shop and for a little while in the OR waiting room sitting with and comforting family members while their loved one was getting a medical procedure.

She was always so full of energy. She gave the younger members of the Auxiliary a run for their money and although not happy about it, she embraced the gift shop evolution from a paper sales pad operation to a real cash register! She was truly an inspiration. She was remembered saying, when stepping down from her service in the gift shop, that she needed more time to go to lunch with her girlfriend (they had a weekly lunch date), who lived upcountry and who she went to elementary school with. "There were so many new restaurants to try out for lunch together. I need more time to do that," she said.

She was with her grandson Dustin, who she raised as her son, when she passed. He visited her frequently in the Gift Shop when she was working. Their devotion and love for each other was evident and inspiring to all around.

"She loved her work and will be deeply missed and remembered by many".​​​​​​​

Judy was a breast cancer survivor and in 1999 was honored by the Cancer Society as the longest cancer survivor on Maui. She was married to George Kitagawa, who pre-deceased her, and is survived by a son, and grandson, along with numerous other family members.

A service will be held on October 23 at the ʻĪao Congregational Church on Vineyard Street in Wailuku. Visitation is from 10 to 11 am with a private family service to follow at 11 am.

Please join us in thanking Judy, and her ʻohana, for their commitment to our hospital and community.