Coach Saiki to be honored at Hualani Park


A dedication ceremony honoring one of the Big Island’s most highly respected football coaches will be held at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Hualani Park.

At that time, the park’s Brickhouse will be officially dedicated as the “Ronald Futoshi ‘Harpo’ Saiki Officials Stand,” and then will be followed by the annual Saiki Bowl Pop Warner football games at the park in Keaukaha.

The Hawaii County Council approved the bill at a recent meeting and the Brickhouse was painted in preparation of Saturday’s dedication.

“Many people have been putting in numerous volunteer hours and donating equipment and supplies, etc. to give the Brickhouse a new facelift,” said Lindsey Iyo of the Parks and Recreation staff at Hualani Park. “We’d like to invite anyone who wants to attend the dedication to honor Coach Saiki to please show up. Besides Coach Saiki, we’ll also honor past Keaukaha coaches Harry Kim and Russell Kuamo’o.”

According to information provided to the County Council in the bill, Saiki was born April 22, 1918 in Hilo and grew up in the Piopio area, near the Wailoa Pond. When he was 14 years old, his parents built a home in Keaukaha and he continued to live in the Keaukaha area for the rest of his life. He attended Hilo Union School and graduated from Hilo High School in 1935. He continued his education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

He married Dottie Thompson and they had four children — Luana, Ronald Jr., Leinani and Francis (Bo). Later he married Donna Weiss Saiki and together they embraced the children of Keaukaha, as Mrs. Saiki was the principal of Keaukaha Elementary School. Mr. Saiki worked and later retired from the County of Hawaii as the Public Works-Roads Department Overseer of East Hawaii.

Mr. Saiki was a quiet and humorous man which earned him the nickname “Harpo,” after Harpo Marx of the Marx Brothers.

In 1969, Mr. Saiki was first asked by Father Siu of Malia Puka o Kalani church to coach the CYO sports teams in Keaukaha.

He coached football, baseball and track. He organized all of the sport activities in Keaukaha. Mr. Saiki was known to pick up children from Panaewa and Lanakila on a daily basis, using the CYO’s “stretchout” and then take them back to their communities after practice. He would set up the fields for games and even cut the grass before each game. He was instrumental for getting lights installed at Hualani Park.

Noticing the hard work that Mr. Saiki was putting in, members of the Hilo Lions Club stepped forward and built, what is now known as the Brickhouse. This building serves many purposes, primarily a storage room for both football and baseball, it also is utilized by officials.

He loved children and loved sports. For the majority of his life, he dedicated it to the children and for that, he was a great man. Mr. Saiki died on October 13, 2006, but his legacy will live on forever.

 

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