The Lives We Lost: Douglas Matsuda-Boucher

The 65-year-old, who died in the Aug. 8 Lahaina fires, fell in love with Maui in the 1980s and was determined to make his home there.

Douglas Matsuda-Boucher had seen enough of the world to know that Maui was where he wanted to be.

The Air Force Veteran faced a series of challenges after first moving to the Valley Isle two decades ago, including a disabling back injury, the loss of his small business and a brief stint of homelessness. But none of those setbacks had quashed his desire to make the island his forever home.

“He loved Maui and everything about it,” said his ex-wife, Dawn Matsuda-Boucher.

Douglas Matsuda-Boucher was in love with Maui and wanted his ashes to be scattered on Haleakala, his ex-wife said. (Courtesy: Dawn Matsuda-Boucher) Courtesy:Dawn Matsuda-Boucher

Matsuda-Boucher, who described himself on Facebook as a good man who “always held Civil Rights and the health of Life on Earth” as central to his values, grew up in Chicago.

He joined the Air Force in 1978 and spent four years stationed in England repairing aircraft electronics. Then he was off to Texas, where he held various jobs while going to night school at the University of Texas at Dallas.

He visited Maui for the first time in the 1980s and was determined that he would end up there someday, Dawn Matsuda-Boucher said.

That dream came true in 2005, when he moved to Maui and started a computer repair business. It was during this time that he met Dawn, a Maui-born woman who delighted in showing him all the island had to offer.

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Building a life on Maui proved hard, however. He moved back to the mainland in 2007 after his business failed. Then returned in 2011 after proposing to Dawn Matsuda-Boucher on a trip to Las Vegas.

When they married, he insisted on taking her last name as well, in honor of the father she had never met. It was a gesture that touched and surprised her, but was also indicative of who he was.

“A historian and Scientist, a renaissance man, a lover not a fighter, though I was a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force,” Matsuda-Boucher wrote in his Facebook bio. “I love diversity and learning about and experiencing all cultures. Including Yours!”

Matsuda-Boucher cared deeply about the environment, his ex-wife said. He was a good storyteller and an excellent cook. And he was adventurous — delighting in drives to Hana, going snorkeling, hiking and exploring the island.

That outgoing nature changed a bit in recent years. Matsuda-Boucher had been on disability due to severe back problems that had not been resolved with surgery. As the pain worsened, he became a bit of a shut-in, his ex-wife said. Their marriage suffered. After they divorced, he descended into homelessness, first living in his car, then a series of homeless shelters.

With the help of social workers, he moved into an apartment in Lahaina last year. It seemed a stroke of luck and a turning point for getting his life back on track. Physical therapy was helping to improve his pain. He was working on his relationship with his ex-wife, who still held out hope that they would end up back together.

Even when he was at his lowest, Dawn Matsuda-Boucher said, he was always still concerned for the wellbeing of others. He loved animals. He would never turn away from someone begging for a cigarette or spare change on the street. He’d call frequently to check in on her, even after the divorce.

“He was just loving and warm and caring,” Dawn Matsuda-Boucher said.

If you lost a friend or family member in the Lahaina fire and would like to help us tell their story, email

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