Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Valentine’s Day is every day for Hilo’s Dan and Kay Sakai

I can’t understand why we wait a full year to show loving appreciation to our true love, as everyday is a cause for celebration.

On Valentine’s Day for a special couple like Dan and Kay Sakai, love flows throughout the year.

The two lovebirds met at the beginning of their teacher careers during the late sixties.  Dan was at Waianae Intermediate and Kay was teaching on the other side of the island at Kailua Intermediate.

“Dan can be quite romantic and yes he knelt at my knees and softly said, I love you, will you marry me?”  Kay said.  “Because if you don’t I am going to be single for the rest of my life.”

Many people, myself included, cannot imagine that romantic side of Dan Sakai, but Kay explains that most of his career tended to protect the less fortunate, the picked on and the abused, which accounted for the thicker skinned person that most of the public sees.

The Sakai’s have been married for several decades as they continue to make strides in their marriage, health and fitness needs.

The couple spends a lot of time together. Taking in a movie in Hilo or Oahu while visiting family, driving over to Kona for a couple of nights and to walk the strip along Alii Drive.  They are also members of the Hilo Yacht Club where they often have romantic walks together.

“We sometimes park our car and enjoy shaved ice along the beach and appreciate the beautiful views around Hilo,” Kay said.

The Sakai’s will walk four to five days a week, but at first needed to learn to become disciplined to make it work for their busy schedules.

“Herb Wegner, a retired counselor for Waiakea High School, and his wife Thelma helped encourage us to walk on a regular basis as they continue to do,” Kay said.  “It is a great way for us to replenish our energy daily, plus feel great the next morning.”

“Kay had no significant medical problems, but now has arthritis from an accident. The walking has helped ease the discomforts,” Dan said.  “Kay is under the care of a physical therapist, Dawn Esser, who has taught her how to maneuver her muscles to ease the pain.”

The height difference between Dan and Kay has been overcome as both complement the other.

“Dan is much taller than I am and I feel that I exercise harder than he does because I have to keep up in our daily walks,” Kay said.  “I perspire faster, but it’s great because I am the one who has the weight problem.”

Keeping the Sakai’s young is their willingness to stay active in a variety of activities.

“We spend a lot of time together, discussing our business, our children, our tenants, relatives and whatever happens to be in the news at the time,” Dan said.  “Kay has a BA in Art Education and art has influenced our everyday culture, which is a point of interest for us.”

Kay is a realtor for Ala Kai Realty and she serves as an active Board Member for the East Hawaii Cultural Center for over 12 years and as the President of the Board for nearly three years.

“She perpetuates the arts of all Cultures in the East Hawaii Community,” a proud husband said.

We all know that genetics plays a good part of living long, healthy lives and the Sakai’s have that health aspect covered with both sides of the family living well into their 90’s.

“I cared gave my Nisei parents for 10 years,” Kay said.  “They were married for 70 years before both passed away.”

The biggest challenge for Kay in care giving her mother was that she was a diabetic insulin patient for the last 45 years of her life.

“My parent went to the Hilo High track to walk and exercise for many years,” Kay said.  “We need to take care of our total health, for proper exercise can delay the aging process.”

Following that knowledge of the importance of daily exercise the Sakai’s will do stretches nearly every morning.

“We do several stretching exercises before we ever get out of bed,” Kay said.  “There are several different things that we do to wake the body gently and they are simple, requiring only a few minutes.”

“For our backs we will pull our legs up to our chest as high as we are able and count up to 20 for each of the 20 sets,” Dan said. 

Dan Sakai was always an imposing figure back in the days when he was principal of Waiakea High School (retired as the Hawaii District Superintendent of Schools) where during some assemblies he would challenge members of the football team to come down and do one arm pushups with him.  

The Sakai’s have yet another reason to stay healthy and fit as their daughter Kathleen Sakai and Scott Oshiro has provided them with two grand children.

“We now realize that it is definitely time for us to begin to prioritize our health even more,” Kay said.  “We are fortunate that the children are healthy and normal and as grandparents we need to be mindful of our health with proper exercise and food.”

“Our grandchildren are like the frosting on the cake,” Dan said.  “They gave us a new perspective on life  as having grandchildren was an unforeseen blessing to us.”

The Sakai’s now make regular visits to Oahu and hopefully are instilling their beliefs on health and exercise to their grandchildren.

“All children’s healthy involvement with sports should be a priority for all,” Dan said.  “It begins with how parents channel their children into whichever sport they involve them into.”

I congratulate the Sakai’s for having a successful marriage because they serve as my role model.  Happy Valentine’s Day to all those who have found love.

And someday should you happen to see a jogger who is madly in love with his wife remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”


February 14, 2012 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments