From Kona to City Hall: Mildred Tina Kaneshiro shares life story

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Mildred Tina Kaneshiro graduated from Konawaena High School. Today, she lives in Nanakuli with her husband Leonard. The couple will be celebrating their 59th anniversary in June 2021. Together they have two children: Leonard MK and Tina Ann, both residing in California. They also have eight grandchildren and now seven great grandchildren.

Kaneshiro has been retired from the City and County since 2012 and served under four mayors since 1995. She started as a receptionist, and eventually moved on to being the secretary to Director of Community Services and secretary to the Chief of Staff. In 2001, she became the mayor’s receptionist until retirement.

Her first job was working for an advertising agency as a PBX operator, delivery messenger and print production assistant. Later, Kaneshiro entered the media world, moving on to KHVH Radio as the secretary of the sales department. Next, she went to KIKU Television and worked as office manager, TV traffic director, and even worked in sales. She was also the television host for “Ka Hoku O Ka Pakipika,” a Hawaiian entertainment program aired every Sunday featuring our local entertainers.

Kaneshiro also spent time at the State Department of Education teaching Hawaiian Studies at Kalihi Uka and Pu’uhale Elementary.

In 1986, Kaneshiro was asked by the Onizuka family to sing “America the Beautiful” and “Aloha ‘Oe” at Astronaut Lt. Colonel Ellison Shoji Onizuka’s memorial service at the National Cemetery of the Pacific. In January 1987, she was also asked by the Kona Outdoor Circle to be a guest singer at the Ellison Onizuka Memorial Fountain fundraiser at the Kona Lagoon.

To conclude her “Aloha” for Onizuka, she was asked to sing at the dedication of the Ellison Onizuka Village at the Hickam Air Force Base.

“I share this episode of my love for a humble, dedicated and determined first Asian American ‘local boy’ from Kona,” she says. “He made us proud! I’ll always remember his kindness and infectious smile — the boy from Keopu.”