If the name Yasuo Takara doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because — as his daughter Melanie so aptly describes — he was “a man behind the scenes.”
But the name Yasuo Takara — who died Feb. 2 at age 85 — will always ring a bell for many in the Hawaii sports world.
Professionally, he was an educator — classroom teacher, football coach, athletic director — but his passion was working to make a better life for those around him on the athletic fields.
Takara, known to his friends as Yasu, was recognized with special awards for those deeds throughout the years:
>> 1982 Hawaii Public Links Golf Association Special Recognition Award.
>> 1990 Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association Outstanding Service Award — for outstanding achievement and long-term service to high school athletics.
>> 1995 Oahu Interscholastic Association Award — in recognition of outstanding service to the OIA.
Those are just a few.
“Yasu was a highly respected athletic director who helped the OIA long after he retired,” former Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive director Keith Amemiya said. “He and his wife, Joyce, volunteered their time at many OIA sporting events, including golf. He loved golf and was very good at it. Many regard him as one of the best putters they’ve ever seen.”
Takara was born Feb. 18, 1932, in Waipahu and graduated in 1950 from Waipahu High, where he played football and baseball. He joined the Marine Corps and graduated from Kansas State Teachers College (now Emporia State). After getting his bachelor’s degree, he eventually earned his master’s degree.
After that, in 1961, Takara taught at Kaimuki for a year before moving on to Campbell, where he spent most of his career as an educator.
He was an assistant for the Campbell football team and then was promoted to head coach in 1966. From 1969 through 1977, he was the school’s athletic director while teaching a motivational class.
Takara transferred to Waipahu High for a year and then moved on to Mililani, where he taught physical science and biology until 1984.
From 1984 through his retirment in 1989, Takara served his second stint as Campbell’s athletic director.
“Discipline first,” Takara said in an article in an OIA football souvenir program in the 1990s. “If you don’t have discipline, you can’t teach. You learn discipline, hard work and sacrifice — that’s what I learned in sports. It’s an integral part of education.
In addition to his service, Takara was an avid fisherman and golfer, and he carded six aces on the course, according to daughter Melanie Takara Su’a. He also played in championship flight tournaments into the 1990s and carried a single-digit handicap.
Takara helped in the running and organization of the Hawaii Junior Golf Association from the late 1960s through the 1980s. He was a coach for many youth golfers who went on to play in, and sometimes win, world and international competitions. Many of those youth golfers went on to become professionals in the sport.
Some of Takara’s behind the scenes work included the printing of certificates for the top athletes in the OIA as well as the detailed calligraphy to record the scores on golf scoreboards at various tournaments.
Takara also served as the OIA golf coordinator, and he was the HHSAA golf coordinator from 1974 to 1995.
The late Eddie Hamada, the popular and successful ‘Iolani coach and administrator, was the best man at Takara’s wedding. They went to college together in Kansas along with two former Waianae football coaches, Harry Mitsui and Larry Ginoza.
In that same 1990s OIA football souvenir program story, Takara said he developed a lasting friendship with “tremendous men” who were his colleauges in the OIA, including John Velasco at Radford, Bino Neves at Pearl City and Norman Pule at Kahuku.
“When I broke into ranks, he was a mentor to me and I’ve always appreciated that,” former OIA executive director Dwight Toyama said. “He was a super great guy. I admired how he went about his business. Very professional and very respected. I used to sit back and watch how his peers respected him — guys like Larry Ginoza, Masa Yonamine (Waipahu), Ted Fukushima (Kaiser), Eddie Hamada and Don Botelho (Damien, Mid-Pacific and Pac-Five), who are all legends in their own right.”
Takara was preceded in death by son Michael, and survived by his wife Yukiko Joyce, daughters Ruth Takara and Melanie (Frank) Su’a, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren; brothers Zensho and Henry, and sister Shizue Inafuku.
Services will be held April 7 at the Mililani Mauka Chapel located in Waipio. Visitation starts at 5 p.m., with the service starting at 6.