It has been and will always be my intention, in writing my PROFILE columns, to honor those within our Hawaiian community who have, through their personal achievements, been role models for all of us. People who have done…and continue to do some extraordinary things. Sometimes, it is necessary to honor someone who is no longer able to do their extraordinary things…
My PROFILE story this month is about a haole gentleman who was born in Marcola , Oregon in 1932, during the worst part of the “Great Depression.” When his parents separated, he lived with his Mom in Everett , WA for a while. But raising a son during that time was too difficult for his single parent Mom and he was sent to the Briscoe Boarding School in Kent , WA which was operated by the Irish Christian Brothers. In 1950 he graduated from O’Dea High School in Seattle then began working for Boeing at nights while beginning his college work at Seattle University . The Korean War had begun in early 1950 and it wasn’t long thereafter that our very patriotic young friend enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. It was during an assignment at Barbers Point in Hawaii that he met the woman who was to be the love of his life. Talk about putting “foot in mouth”…this young, good looking Marine Corporal met this beautiful young Hawaiian lady and decided to see if he could get a date with her. He asked her if she wanted to go out for something to eat. She replied, “No thanks…I just ate” so the young Marine (trying to impress her with his knowledge of the Hawaiian language) asked “Oh…did you go to the lua?” Of course we all know he meant to say LUAU but when you leave the last U of that word out, the meaning of the word changes pretty drastically…after some hysterical laughing, our Hawaiian Miss decided this guy was someone pretty special! They would have celebrated their 50 th wedding anniversary in November 2005!
But that is not to be….my very special PROFILE guest JAMES ARTHUR STORMO left our world on Saturday July 23, 2005 !
What makes Jim Stormo so special? Deep, deep down inside this man beat the heart of a kanaka maoli… true, he had the outer skin of a kanaka`e (foreigner) but Jim Stormo was born to be one of us, a man whose very soul embraced all things Hawaiian! Listen to the voices of the hundreds upon hundreds of people, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiians, whom he touched with his warm, friendly Aloha style. More than knowledge that can be gained through books, Jim Stormo was a man who knew about that which he spoke… he could weave a haku lei…he carved detailed miniature outrigger canoes, beautiful and realistic of the full sized ones that kanaka maoli (native Hawaiian man) used to make in kahiko (ancient) times… He could tell you about hunting goats and deer in the Mauna Lei gulch on Lana`i or in the Okanagan Mountains here in Washington State , both of which he did often…how many of us know how to “throw net” to catch fish on Hawaii ’s reefs? Jim did. He knew what kind of river rocks are used to Kalua pigs so he was one of those sent to pick them out of the Washington mountain riverbeds…yes, he could even Kalua a pig. All these things and so much more, Jim Stormo could do…and did….
But Jim Stormo’s story is about so much more. Jim eventually graduated from Seattle University and retired in 1994 after working over 40 years with the Boeing Company. Jim was a stalwart, a backbone of Seattle’s Wakinikona Hawaiian Club, where he was a member for decades!Not just a member but also on the Executive Board, most recently as a respected Trustee! Jim was the one charged with maintaining and eventually trying to sell the Wakinikona Clubhouse property near Tiger Mountain and handled the sale of surplus Wakinikona equipment! But Jim Stormo lived a life that was multi-dimensional, encompassing more than the Hawaiian community he loved so much. Because of complications at birth, Jim’s daughter Rose Marie was born mentally disadvantaged and over the years, there was no stronger voice in Washington State politics for the developmentally disadvantaged than Jim Stormo. He was President of the Merry Wood School for the mentally disabled. He lobbied for grant money to start the very successful “Community Enterprises of Issaquah” which trains and employs workers with special needs.
A story about James Arthur Stormo would not be complete without relating to that lovely young Hawaiian miss of the “Lua” story. Ruth Nani Cockett Stormo is a Lana`i gal, a 1953 graduate of the Kamehameha Schools. Nani is a beautiful, elegant and multi-talented lady….graceful hula dancer…. awesome lei maker….and Chaplain for the Wakinikona Hawaiian Club. Nani and Jim have two daughters (RoseMarie Stormo and LeeAnn Lehua Lafferty of Edmonds , WA ) and one son (James “Kimo” Stormo of North Bend ) and three mo`opuna (grandchildren.)
Jim Stormo loved gardening…sowing the seeds and nurturing the plants that eventually blossomed into beautiful, fragrant flowers…and as he did with his plants, Jim Stormo sowed seeds of caring and love and Aloha that have brought beauty and warmth into all our lives…Mahalo Jim Stormo….Mahalo nui loa!
Until next time, be kind to each other…me ke Aloha pumehana…………Danny