The Lives We Lost: Glenn Yoshino

The 75-year-old grew up in a plantation village on the outskirts of Lahaina and had deep roots in West Maui.

Whenever Glenn Yoshino’s nephews came to visit him from Oahu, the longtime Lahaina resident would almost always take them for a drive past Launiupoko Beach Park and point at a cluster of tall trees visible from the road.

“We planted these trees when we were your age,” Scott Yoshino recalls his uncle telling him time and time again.

It was an anecdote that Scott Yoshino didn’t fully grasp the meaning of as a kid, but one that has taken on new significance in the last month.

Glenn Yoshino, who died in the Aug. 8 fire, had deep roots in Lahaina, though he’d spent much of his life trying to rise above his humble beginnings there.

Maui Fires, The Lives We Lost Memorial banner
Civil Beat’s goal is to tell a meaningful story about every single person who perished in Aug. 3 Lahaina blaze. Click on the image to read more. 

Born in 1947, Yoshino grew up in Puukolii on the outskirts of Lahaina, in what was once the largest sugar plantation village on Maui. He and his younger brother, Wayne, were raised by a single mother with limited resources. One of their early homes had a dirt floor. For fun, they would go swimming in irrigation ditches that carried water to the sugar fields.

The brothers started working at a young age delivering groceries to other families on the plantation, his nephew said, the beginnings of an intense work ethic that Yoshino carried into adulthood.

After attending business school on Oahu, Yoshino moved back to West Maui and juggled two full-time jobs for most of his adult life. He worked hard and long hours, managing the front desk at a string of hotels in Lahaina.

When he wasn’t helping put tourists at ease, he could be found chatting with customers or making dumplings at the House of Saimin, a local mainstay that he co-owned for a number of years, his nephew said.

Glenn Yoshino with his grandnephew Jude. Yoshino died in the Aug. 8 Lahaina fire. (Courtesy: Scott Yoshino) Courtesy:Scott Yoshino

The restaurant catered to a fair share of tourists, but it was mostly a local joint — open late for workers to swing by for a meal after finishing up a long day of work.

He never married or had children. Instead, he invested in renovating his home in Lahaina and shared the fruits of his labor with friends and family.

He took his nephews on annual trips to the West Coast, where they almost always stayed with friends that Yoshino had made in Lahaina over the years — an extended ohana in cities from Las Vegas to Oregon.

He was opinionated and had high standards, Scott Yoshino said, but he was also incredibly generous. With the service staff at restaurants. With neighbors and friends. And of course, with his family. He showed his love in ways big and small — with trips to Disneyland or something as simple as paying careful attention to each child in the family at Christmas.

“He was one of the few relatives that would ask us kids what we actually wanted,” Scott Yoshino said. “And he’s also the one who would usually come through with that.”

He threw large Christmas parties and always made sure to have extra food to share with all his neighbors. He’d ask visiting family to pick up a dozen favorite pies on their way into town so that he could give them away to friends. His willingness to talk story and sense of generosity made him the kind of guy who seemed to have friends wherever he went.

“It’s like he knew everybody,” his nephew said.

Did you lose a friend or loved one in the Lahaina fire? Email to help us tell their story.

About the Author

Support Civil Beat during the season of giving.

As a small nonprofit newsroom, our mission is powered by readers like you. But did you know that less than 1% of readers donate to Civil Beat?

Give today and support local journalism that helps to inform, empower and connect.