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Lyle Wong, Ph.D.


Dr. Wong has held University, government and private industry positions in research, enforcement and regulatory affairs.   At the University of Hawaii, Dr. Wong directed a research program on pesticides and potential impact on human health funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  As Chief of the Pesticides Branch, State Department of Agriculture, Dr. Wong directed a statewide pesticide enforcement and regulatory program to assure the safe use of pesticides in Hawaii.   As Director of Environmental Affairs for Dole Packaged Foods Company (Pineapple operations of Dole Food Company), Dr. Wong worked in the Dole operating divisions (Hawaii, Philippines, Thailand, Korea, Dominican Republic and Honduras) to assure agricultural operations were in compliance with Dole corporate policies and procedures.

As Administrator of the Plant Industry Division, HDOA, Dr. Wong oversaw the operations of three Branches in the HDOA, Plant Pest Control (biocontrol programs), Pesticides and Plant Quarantine.   In Plant Quarantine, Dr. Wong worked with USDA, International Services, the American Embassy in Tokyo and the Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) to open Japan markets to potted foliage and flowering plants from Hawaii and with the USDA, APHIS, PPQ, growers and contract sterilization companies in the U.S. to open U.S. markets to fresh fruits and vegetables from Hawaii using irradiation as a quarantine treatment.  Dr. Wong is member of a research team that directed the highly successful USDA, Agriculture Research Service fruit fly area-wide suppression program in Hawaii which received national and international recognition, including, the USDA Secretary’s Honor Award, USDA – ARS Technology Transfer Award, and the Federal Laboratory Consortium Technology Transfer Team Award for 2005, for Trephritid fruit fly control and technology transfer.

Dr. Wong served on USDA, APHIS, ARS panels reviewing the priorities of the USDA, ARS, Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center, Hilo, and the Plant Biological and Molecular Processes programs of the USDA, ARS, National Program.   Dr. Wong served as President of the Western Plant Board from 2008 – 2010, one of four Regional Boards of the National Plant Board in the United States.  In 2008, Dr. Wong received the USDA, APHIS, Administrator’s Award for his advocacy of protecting Hawaii from invasive species and for his work to establish quarantine treatment procedures for Hawaii fresh agricultural products.  The award acknowledged Dr. Wong’s effort to open new markets for Hawaii products and for support of irradiation as a post-harvest quarantine treatment for movement of Hawaii fresh agricultural products to U.S. mainland markets.  Dr. Wong retired from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture on April 30, 2012 to take a position with Pa’ina Hawaii, as Radiation Safety Officer and Head of Research and Operations of a Cobalt-60 underwater irradiator in Kunia, Oahu, for the quarantine treatment of fresh agricultural products for export to U.S. mainland markets.

Lyle has been married to Susan for 47 years, has a son and daughter in California and one granddaughter (hoping for more)! Lyle pursues his wood and metal working in his home workshop equipped with lathes and milling machines.

Enrique Martinez


Enrique photoBorn in San Luis, Sonora, Mexico, Enrique moved with his family to Yuma, Arizona in 1965. The family then moved to Carlsbad, California in 1967. After high school, Enrique took a short course in landscape design at Costa Mesa Junior College.

Enrique had intentions of starting his own landscape business after junior college. However, in 1971 he took a position with Rancho Verde Nursery in Encinitas, California where he worked until 1993.

Mr. Martinez received an invitation in 1993 to come to Hawaii to work for California & Hawaii Foliage Growers Inc. and relocated his family to the Big Island of Hawaii. Enrique has been with California & Hawaii Foliage Growers since October 1993 and is now Vice President of the company.

Having served on the Board of Directors of HENA for several years, Enrique became HENA’s eighth president in 2003. He remained as President through 2005 and has been on the Board of Directors every year since. Enrique is also Transportation Chair of HENA and facilitates the dissemination of information from transportation companies to the HENA board and membership.

Enrique has been married to his lovely wife Sara for 47 years. They have a son, Fernando, who also works at CA & HI Foliage Growers, and a daughter, Crystal, who lives in California with her family. Enrique and Sara also have two handsome grandsons and one beautiful granddaughter.

Judy W. Schilling


Judy SchillingBorn in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Judy grew up planning to be a school teacher. She graduated in 1972 from the former A.D. Eisenhower High School. Before she could start college to pursue her career as a teacher, she married and had her only child, daughter Tracy. She was a stay-at-home mom until her divorce, when she worked as a secretary for Ingersoll-Rand Corporation. On a blind date, she met her current husband, Walter, who had visited Hawaii on his return trip from Vietnam vowing to return one day.

Selling their possessions shortly after their marriage in August 1979, they arrived in Kahului, Maui in early 1980. Judy managed a car rental agency for several years and then took a job at Maui Typesetting as a secretary and as self-taught typesetter when the current typesetter quit. Before long, the Schillings were called back to the east coast to help failing family members. While in PA, Judy learned computerized typesetting while working in the print shops of two international corporations.

In early 1991, Judy and Walter returned to Hawaii, but chose the Big Island as home as Maui had ‘grown up.’ They settled in Hawaiian Paradise Park and Judy worked as a secretary for a print shop. She met Jo Ann Johnston, former marketing director of HENA, through the print shop and became friends. Judy volunteered to help with registration at the second Hawaii MIDPAC Horticultural Conference & Trade Show held in early 1995.

Later that year, Judy became Jo Ann’s assistant with HENA. She learned quickly and not only took minutes at meetings, she helped with coordination of MIDPAC and other events HENA participated in. Upon Jo Ann’s resignation, Judy began running the office, coordinated all things MIDPAC, grant writing and administration.

Judy has now been with HENA for 20 years and has found her work to be fulfilling and HENA members to be her ‘Hawaii family.’ She loves the work she does, and now also works as administrative assistant and grant writer/administrator to the Big Island Association of Nurserymen (BIAN) and recording secretary and grant writer/administrator for the Hawaii Floriculture & Nursery Association (HFNA).

Judy and Walter live in Ainaloa; she runs the HENA office from her home. She has two grandsons and a stepdaughter and a stepson, each with two step-grandchildren. Judy hopes to continue her work with HENA for many years to come and looks forward to the challenges life may bring.

Andrew Kawabata


Andrew KawabataAndrew Kawabata is an Extension Agent with the University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences. He is stationed at the Komohana Research and Extension Center in Hilo.

Born and raised in Hilo, Andrew is a 1971 graduate of Hilo High School and has received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Horticulture from UH-Manoa.

Before moving back to Hilo in 1980, Andrew worked in Waimanalo, Oahu as a nursery manager for a landscape nursery company for 3 years.  Upon returning, he started his own truck farm, specializing in vegetable crops, before moving on to an extension position with the Hawaiian Home Lands Agricultural Program in 1990.

Since 2002, he now has responsibilities with the Hawaii Potted Foliage Industry and coordinates the Master Gardener Program for East Hawaii.

As the Extension Agent for Nursery Crops, Andrew has worked closely with the Big Island Association of Nurserymen (BIAN), the Hawaii Export Nursery Association (HENA) and the Hawaii Floriculture & Nursery Association (HFNA) in areas such as pest control, new crop development and improved nursery management.

Some accomplishments include the HI-AZ Nursery Cost Estimator, Pest Control Field Days at various nurseries, and liner distributions of 5 new Dracaena varieties to cooperating nurseries.

Charles “Charlie” McCorriston Bostwick


CBostwick head shotIt would be a true statement to say that agriculture runs in Charlie’s DNA.  Charlie Bostwick is a descendent of an Irish immigrant, Hugh McCorriston who came to Hawai’i in 1873.  His great grandfather, Hugh, along with Dan, Hugh’s brother, grew sugarcane and established the Kamalō Sugar Company on Moloka`i but faced a twist in fate when their sugar mill burned before the first crop was harvested.  Eventually his grandfather and his family moved to the Punchbowl area on O`ahu.

  Charlie was born on July 17, 1956 and grew up in Kailua, O`ahu and graduated from Punahou High School.  He then went on to graduate from New Mexico State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture. After college, he worked briefly as an assistant manager for Nurserymen’s Exchange in Half Moon Bay, California before eventually returning to O`ahu to work in the landscape industry in Waimānalo.   

 As he began working in the Hawai’i nursery industry an opportunity to manage an anthurium farm led him to Mountain View on the Big Island in 1982.  Later he worked at Sunshine Farms with the late Rosak Bisel and Hamilton Manley. Charlie met his wife Barbara Matsuda during this time; they have two children, a son Ikaika, and a daughter Keiko. In 1986, Charlie and Barbara began Puna Landscape Nursery in Kurtistown, a backyard nursery. They grew a variety of palms and other landscape plants, shipping their first full container of plants to O`ahu in 1987.    


After meeting growers who were shipping certified foliage plants to the continental United States, specifically California, they changed their nursery focus and moved their operation to Mountain View.  Their certified nursery, Pacific TransPlants Export Nursery was established on 14 ½ acres of the former sugarcane plantation, Ola`a Sugar Company where certified potted foliage – primarily dracaena and palms have been grown and shipped throughout the state of Hawai’i, the West Coast and Florida since 1989.    

 In July of 2000, Charlie with a group of nurserymen from the state of Hawai’i and University of Hawai’i Cooperative Extension personnel attended the Japan Flora 2000 exhibition on Awaji Island, Hyogo Prefecture in Japan. With over 14,000 attendees in the first half hour this was the biggest show since the 1990 Osaka Expo. Hawai’i was among the 14 countries producing a garden and landscape exhibit that showcased and shared the Aloha Spirit with all who saw it.  Plants and flowers were shipped from the Big Island specifically for Japan Flora 2000. The group visited several foliage nurseries and a Japanese Flower Auction. They were led by the late Kristin McGrath who served in the capacity as their official guide and Japanese translator.   

In March 2012, Charlie and his son Ikaika, an electrical engineer, were part of the contingent from the State of Hawai’i who took part in the 182nd Philadelphia International Flower Show in Pennsylvania.  The 2012 show’s theme, Hawai’i – Islands of Aloha opened to a record setting 33,000 people.  The educational display they set up with designer Neill Sams – Hawai’i Tropical Flowers and Plants Exhibit received an award for Best Tropical Landscape.

He has been an active member of HENA since its inception 20 years ago as well as a former board member of BIAN (the Big Island Association of Nurserymen) and a board member for HFSA (the Hawaii Florists and Shippers Association).  He’s held every position on the HENA Board and has been strong advocate for Hawaiian Potted Foliage and Hawaiian Agriculture, supporting all facets of the industry.

 As President of HENA and a strong supporter of the “Hawaiian Brand”, Charlie is very grateful that the Hawaiian potted foliage export industry has continued to grow and thrive. He looks forward to the day when all commodities work together to establish the “Hawaiian Brand” as the premier source for quality and beauty in plants and flowers. Made in Hawai’i…, Grown with Aloha…, two statements that Charlie along with his great grandfather, Hugh McCorriston, would be proud to say.

Dr. Arnold Hara


Dr. Arnold HaraArnold Hara is an entomologist and extension specialist in the Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences stationed at UH-CTAHR, Komohana Research and Extension Center in Hilo, Hawaii.  Born and raised in Hilo, Arnold graduated from Hilo High School in 1970.  He received his B.S. and M.S. in Entomology from the UH-Manoa, and completed his Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of California-Davis in 1982.  Arnold minored in plant nematology.  Hara has been stationed in Hilo, Hawaii since 1982 with research and extension duties in pest management of floricultural crops.  Hara focuses on preharvest and postharvest control treatments in a systems approach to quarantine security.  Some of his research accomplishments include the development of heat treatments to control quarantine pests, including the invasive coqui frog and plant-parasitic nematodes.

Arnold and team members Ruth Niino-DuPonte, Marcel Tsang, Charles Nelson, Susan Cabral, Kris Aoki, Jon Katada, and Andrew Kawabata working closely with the nursery industry and the volcanic cinder provider developed a steam treatment to disinfest truckloads of cinders of plant-parasitic nematodes.  Live reniform nematodes found in cinder media shut the foliage industry from shipping to California for more than 2 months in 2010 until the industry began steam treating their cinder media.  They also innovated a mobile a hot shower freight container that disinfest nursery products of coqui frogs, slugs, ants, and other quarantine pests.

Randall “Randy” Yamada


Oct. 11, 1949 – Jan. 31, 2011

RandyRandy was born on October 11, 1949 in Ola’a, which is now known as Kea’au on the Big Island of Hawaii. At the age of 13, he started working at Matsuda Nursery in Waiakea Uka.

After graduating from Hilo High School in 1967, he worked at Koi Tomato in Mountain View where he remained for almost a decade. Randy attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo in 1977 and graduated with a degree in Tropical Agriculture. By the early 1980’s, he worked at Hawaii Anthurium Grower’s Co-op in Hilo. In the early 90’s he went to work for Pacific Floral Exchange in Kea’au. When he left PFE, he started working with Big Island Plant & Foliage in Panaewa and Kohala.

In spite of such a busy schedule, Randy started Yamada Nursery in the early 80’s with certified anthuriums. Some of his accounts included Kinipopo in Hilo and an account in Florida. He then moved on to growing Manila and Foxtail Palms, which he sold to various accounts on the Big Island.

As a representative of Big Island Plant & Foliage, Randy joined HENA in early 2001 and represented HENA in our trade show booths at both the Tropical Plant Industry Exposition (TPIE) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the Texas Association of Nurserymen’s TAN Expo in Texas in 2002. Ever willing to participate, Randy joined the Board of Directors of HENA in 2003 and was Treasurer in 2004. He was a loyal member, and even after he decided to forego serving on the Board, he participated in all HENA events and meetings of importance.

Randy passed away on January 31, 2011. He is survived by his mother Shizuyo, two sisters Ellen and Jennie, a brother Larry, two daughters Laura and Shari and longtime companion Karen Santos. He has many friends in HENA and will be sorely missed.

Aloha and Farewell, Randy!

Robert Stearns


RobertStearns hofRobert was born May 5, 1955 in San Angelo, Texas. He enjoyed being a part of the local swim team which culminated in being a four year letterman through high school.   Interest in design was spawned by his preparation to attend the Texas A&M Maritime Academy engineering program.  These early interests continued to guide his direction as he moved into different pursuits in life.

After attending 2 years at Texas A&M his direction took a major shift at which time he relocated to Hawaii where he lived on the North Shore of Oahu and  enjoyed surfing some of the most challenging waves in the world as well as being exposed to the forefront of surfboard design.  From 1975 to the mid ‘80s he ran his own surfboard company which enabled him to pursue his interest in surfboard design and construction.  This provided him the opportunity to live in Hawaii as well as California.

In the mid “80’s due to his interest in design and the he studied  pattern making and clothing design which offered creative opportunity in new refreshing directions.  In 1989 Robert took a part time job working with a friend who had started a potted foliage nursery. Little did he know that this job would be setting his career direction for the next 20 plus years.

From the time that Robert started working at Leilani Foliage, LLC he found running a successful nursery to be very challenging but satisfying.  As his understanding of the industry grew he gained extensive knowledge and found enjoyment in being a part of the Hawaii Export Nursery Association.  He has been an active member and has held Board positions in HENA for most of the last 18 years.  It has given him the opportunity to learn about the industry he is a part of and as well as an opportunity to work with like-minded people to help the export industry grow.  In July 2007 he started his own company Leilani Palms and Foliage, Inc.  

Robert has been active in several community organizations over the last 15 years and believes that working together we can help make our communities a better place to live.  He has been the industry representative on a selection committee for a UH extension position and has had the honor of being a part of helping create the foundation of an umbrella group that will represent the floriculture and nursery industry as a whole.   Over the last 3 years he has enjoyed the challenge of working with other key people in the floriculture and nursery industry to form the Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association.  He currently holds the Vice President Pro Tem office in HFNA.  Robert feels that working in an industry where you work with beautiful plants and wonderful people and share Hawaii grown plants with the rest of the country has been a great opportunity and a blessing.

George Martin


Nov. 20, 1924 – Jan. 14, 2009

George Martin scan0001George Martin was born in Waipunale, Hawaii on November 20, 1924. George grew up in the plantation towns of Laupahoehoe and Papaikou. After graduating from Hilo High School in 1943, he started working for the Onomea Sugar Co. as a merchants’ helper.  When George was 26 years old, he was elected Director of the United Sugar Workers Local 142.  George led the way for Local 142 on the Big Island and was instrumental in getting better wages and benefits for hundreds of workers on the Big Island helping to make a better life for so many Big Island residents and their families, especially those in the Hotel and Sugar Plantation industries.  In 1969, George was a key individual in helping the then two year University of Hawaii Hilo campus expand to a four year university that it is today.  He was an advocate and lobbyist for the university expansion.  He believed that access to higher education was a key for the local youth and for the future of Hawaii and the Big Island.

For his accomplishments, George received a distinguished service award from the University of Hawaii in 2008.  In 1971, George was appointed the ILUW’s Vice President Director, a position that required him to move to San Francisco and which he held for 10 years before retiring and moving back to the Big Island. In fact, he and his wife Dorothy moved back to his birthplace, Waipunale.  There George and his bride started farming and cultivating Dracaena foliage.  George and Dorothy worked very closely with various nurseries on the Big Island.  He became very active in HENA as a member and was on the Board of Directors in the early days of HENA.

In addition to his involvement with HENA, George was selected by the Mayor’s office to be on the Planning Commission where he held that position for many years.  He was an advocate for the agricultural industry and helped protect agricultural lands and promote the industry through his many political contacts and friends.  In 1994, George and Dorothy expanded their farming operations with their son Thomas and his wife Kris.  For years, George was the onsite manager of the farm, tending to the daily operations of the farming and his truly loved tractor.  He retired from the farming business in 2001.

After his retirement, George would occasionally help Tom and Kris at their nursery, Hawaii Global Nursery Exporters.  He loved the industry and enjoyed being outdoors and around the plants.  He was always optimistic about the agriculture industry and felt that the industry was a very important component to the Big Island’s economy.

George passed away on January 14, 2009.  He leaves behind his wife Dorothy, his daughters Shirley, Loretta, Susan and his son Thomas, along with 10 grandchildren.  A true pioneer and a man with vision, commitment, dedication and integrity.  So George, Aloha oi and Mahalo Nui Loa for all of your kokua and contributions that you have made to the Island of Hawaii and the agricultural industry.  You will truly be missed.

Margarita “Dayday” Hopkins


Dayday HopkinsMargarita, also known as “Dayday” (pronounced as Dye (2x)), is an excellent example that the archetypical image of a clock-watching government bureaucratic is often wrong.  Dayday works, day and night,  for the Hawaii County Department of Research and Development as the Economic Development Specialist in charge of the agriculture program and provides vital coordinative and clearinghouse services for the many agricultural communities and individuals on this island.

Prior to her coming to the Big Island, Dayday worked with the Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures at Auburn University in Alabama for over 3 years where she trained international students and Peace Corps volunteers in aquaculture economics and conducted research on the marketing of aquaculture products such as trout, tilapia, Chinese carp and bait fish.

While working with Auburn University, she conducted the first successful organized sales of tilapia in the US in 1977-78.  These initial sales were a major stimulus in the development of the 200,000 tonne USA tilapia market.   She also developed tilapia markets in Kuwait in the Middle East when she and her husband worked with the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research in 1982 to 1985.  The project created a great demand for tilapia that one year after the project, Kuwait was importing over 700 tons of frozen tilapia from Taiwan (for a population of 1.5 million people).

In addition to marketing research, Dayday also conducted research on the economics of the fishing industry and integrated livestock-fish aquaculture systems.  She ahs taught undergraduate courses in economics and agricultural marketing at UH-Hilo and Central Luzon State University in the Philippines, respectively.

Dayday’s undergraduate degree in Accounting was obtained at St. Joseph College and Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics is from Xavier University, both in  the Philippines.   She also completed all the coursework for a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics at Oregon State University.  Although she completed her coursework for Master’s degree in the Philippines, she defended her Master’s thesis in Alabama before a committee of Agricultural Economics professors from Auburn University.  This external defense was the first approved by the Department of Higher Education in the Philippines.

Dayday moved to the Big Island in fall of 1988.   Dayday is married to Dr. Kevin Hopkins, Professor at the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management at University of Hawaii-Hilo.  She has three children, Leyson, Shanon and Alyx and five granddaughters.

This brings us to why Margarita, a relative newcomer to Hawaii (she has only been here 19 years), has been selected to HENA’s MIDPAC Hall of Fame.  Dayday is a very strong supporter of HENA.  Over the years, she:

Organized the Big Island Transportation Committee which opened the dialogue with shippers thus providing the opportunity for the commodity groups to negotiate with shippers regarding rates, containers, etc.;

Encouraged the County to provide financial and technical support for HENA’s Mid Pacific Conference and Trade Show;  

Served as a judge for the HENA’s trade show displays; and

Constantly tried to get the various agricultural trade groups to work together

She does not understand the words “No” or “We can’t do that!”  If we had more government employees like Dayday and Ruth Iwata (also a HENA Hall of Fame member), we would not have any worries about the condition of our governments.

Patrick McGrath


Pat4Patrick McGrath was born and raised in California agriculture. His interest in agriculture originated in his grandparents’ Pomona, CA, orange groves where he spent summers, and in his father’s work as a crop duster in the farmlands of Imperial Valley near the Mexico border. Patrick grew up flagging for his father, as the plane flew over dusting pesticides the valley’s vast croplands. He also worked onion harvests, drove combines and worked on baling operations in the 110°F heat of the valley.

After graduation, Patrick served in Viet Nam in the Army in the late 1960s, and then returned to California where he enjoyed the beach, life and volleyball. His first jobs in tropical agriculture were there, near the beach, at several San Diego retailers and landscapers, and later at Rancho Soledad, a major southern California nursery.

Patrick was among the first group of commercial growers of tropical foliage in Hawaii, coming to Hilo in the mid-1970s to found the Hawaii division of Rancho Soledad. He got his start collecting cuttings from homeowners’ gardens, shipping plants back to California.

In 1983, McGrath set out to build his own business in Hilo and founded Hawaii Foliage Exports, Inc., which produces, markets and distributes high quality tropical plants for export. Hawaii Foliage Exports operates four locations in Hilo–two nurseries in the Panaewa Agricultural Park and two field stock operations in Keaau. Its Dracaena and palm varieties are marketed under the successful brand name “Perfectly Hawaiian®.” The nursery specializes in tropical plants for use exclusively in the commercial interior landscape industry. Hawaii Foliage Exports ships most of its plants–via air and ocean containers–to distributors in California and Florida who acclimate the plants, stock inventory and resell to commercial interiorscape firms throughout the Mainland.

Patrick McGrath’s innovations in new plant products, nursery operations and shipping techniques have benefited the industry as a whole, while he has also assisted new growers beginning production. He was among the first nurserymen to ship potted plants by refrigerated ocean container to the Mainland in 1977. McGrath was also the first to ship potted plants by ocean container to Japan in May 2001, involving considerable pre-shipment discussions with the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture.

While serving as president of the Hawaii Export Nursery Association in 1997-98, McGrath was instrumental in passing legislation that enabled Hawaii’s foliage growers to obtain low interest loans from the Department of Agriculture, creating hundreds of acres of new nursery production and more jobs.

Patrick is a pioneer who has demonstrated leadership in Hawaii’s nursery industry for over 20 years. Since the 1980s, Patrick has served twice as president, on the board of directors of, and held other officer positions in the Hawaii Export Nursery Association (HENA), the Big Island Association of Nurserymen (BIAN) and Hawaii Association of Nurserymen. He was one of the founders of the BIAN Plant Sale and a charter member of HENA. He regularly cooperates with the University of Hawaii CTAHR, the USDA Agricultural Research Service and Department of Agriculture Plant Quarantine on research projects.

His many awards include the 2001 Governor’s Exporter of the Year and Governor’s Exporter of the Year for Perishable Commodities. In 2002 he was awarded the SBA Exporter of the Year for the Big Island.

Patrick is married to wife Kristin, and has two daughters, Kate (18) and Laurie (5). He still enjoys volleyball, is very close to his large extended family on the mainland, and restoring his ’57 Porsche.

Tony Hanley


Tony HandleyBorn on June 13, 1939 in San Francisco, Tony Hanley married his wife Linda in October of 1962 and reared two children, a boy Jay and daughter Jill, while attending night school at San Francisco State University.

Tony began working for Matson Navigation Company as a mail boy on the San Francisco docks in April, 1960.  He has held several positions at Matson, including Labor Relations Administrator, Manager of Container Operations, and Director of Matson’s Personnel Relations Department.

Tony was transferred to Honolulu in 1987 as Container Yard and Freight Station manager at Matson’s Sand Island Terminal.  In 1988, Tony was transferred to the Big Island as District Manager for Matson, responsible for all of Matson’s island operations including the Ports of Hilo and Kawaihae.

Tony became active in the Big Island community, serving as Chairman of the Hawaii Island United Way, as President of the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce, the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce, the Hilo Chapter of the Navy League, the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board and the Big Island Business Council.  Tony was Chairman of the University of Hawaii at Hilo Chancellor’s Forward Together Committee, served on the board of Directors of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and was a member of the Hilo Rotary Club, the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council and the Hawaii Export Nursery Association.

One of Tony’s favorite community activities was his time as Chairman of the Agriculture Committee of the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board.  Tony grew up as a city boy, but learned farming, ranching and nursery cultivation on the Big Island.  Tony promoted Ag both state and nationwide. Matson worked in partnership with island agriculture to provide markets for their products.  Tony feels that his love for the Big Island and its’ people stems from the thought that he must have lived here in a past life.

Tony was transferred to Matson’s Oakland operation as Northern California Sales Manager in February 1999.  He resisted the transfer for over two months since he didn’t want to leave Hilo; however, Tony and Linda are enjoying their four grandsons who all live in San Francisco.

Ruth Iwata, Ph.D.


Ruth IwataRuth Iwata served as an extension specialist in horticulture for the foliage industry in Hawaii from 1980 until her retirement in 1998.  She worked out of the Komohana Agricultural Complex and Beaumont Experiment Station in Hilo, in the center of the expanding export foliage industry in Hawaii.  Her great satisfaction was to see the industry grow from $2 million in 1980 to $16 million in sales value when she left, and to see the expanding fields of dracaena now visible from the highways.

Her emphasis was working closely with individual nurseries, HENA the industry organization, and in dracaena and shipping studies.  Her responsibilities also resided in all the potted ornamental nurseries, including potted flowering plants such as orchids.

Born in Kealakekua, Hawaii on a coffee farm, she grew up in Hilo and graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a B.S. in nursing, partially funded by the US Navy.  She served two years in the USNR nurse corps at St. Albans Hospital, Long Island, New York, earned an M.S. in Nursing from St. John’s University and taught nursing in Farmingdale before returning to the University of Hawaii at Manoa to teach.

Her career transition was spurred when she married, had three children in rapid succession, and took some time for family.  Using education support from the GI Bill, she returned to school with the intention of starting a small backyard orchid nursery and staying close to her children.  Instead, she studied with Haruyuki Kamemoto as her major professor and received her doctorate in Horticulture in 1980.

She is grateful for the generous working relationships she has had in the industry: Patrick McGrath, Malcolm Saxby, Tamo Kitagawa, Enrique Martinez and Harry Yonemura, Lew Nakamura, Hiram Hagio, Ted Matsuda, Robert Stearns, Ray Nakamura, Charles & Barbara Bostwick, Ron Nitta, and many, many more, proud, assertive, and akamai nursery entrepreneurs.

Malcolm Saxby


MalcolmAs a 2005 MIDPAC Hall of Fame inductee, Malcolm is being honored for giving his time, effort and talents to develop the Hawaii export foliage industry.

Malcolm was born in 1952 on Occidental Negros Philippine Island, and moved with his family to Hawaii in 1954.  He graduated with a degree in Agriculture from the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Malcolm has worked in the Hawaii foliage industry for 34 years, opening Puna Certified Nursery, Inc. in 1975.  Puna Certified Nursery, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful nurseries in the State of Hawaii, and continues to grow and diversify.  Their products are used throughout the United States and Canada.

Malcolm took the leadership role as the original President of the Hawaii Export Nursery Association in 1993, and he has unselfishly served as an officer or board member of HENA from 1993 to present.

His passion is working with the foliage community, and in 1993, under the administration of Malcolm, HENA began working with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture in the development of a quarantine agreement with Japan; the Japan-Hawaii Burrowing Nematode Certification Program, which was developed to open the Japan market for potted ornamental plants from Hawaii.

In 1985, Malcolm was on the Committee for Resource Conservation with the Department of Land and Natural Resources.  He was also on the Flower and Foliage Advisory Committee, and in 1997 sat on the Hawaii County Water Commission Board.

Malcolm is married to Rose Saxby, and has two sons, Trevor and Collin.

From the beginning, through Malcolm’s guidance and also the hard work of all the HENA members, the Hawaii Foliage Industry continues to grow and successfully expand into new markets.  We have one of the most thriving agriculture industries in the state.

Congratulations, Malcolm, on a job well done!

Robert Theophile DeNeve


In February of 1943, Bob was born in the Flower of Fifth Hospital in New York, New York.  By the time he was a mere four years old, World War II had ended and his parents had the opportunity to explore the world.  They both decided that their first-born son would be best placed in the loving arms of his paternal grandparents who resided in Belgium.  They all boarded the great “New Amsterdam” and proceeded on their adventure.  Little Bob was faced with the challenging task of learning to speak Flemish overnight that is if he had any of the normal everyday needs of a four year old, like food and water.  He quickly absorbed the language with little effort.  Upon his return to America, he had to learn English once again to enter and survive as a first grader.

He spent his youth in New England between Rehoboth, Massachusetts and East Greenwich, Rhode Island.  The summers were spent with his material grandparents who lived in East Greenwich on Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island.  These were Bob’s happiest childhood memories as he and his beloved baby brother, Julian, would get lost playing in the immense twenty-three bedroom home nestled on the bay.

In 1959 the entire family was ready to settle in Florida and make it their place of residence.  Bob drove his ’38 Nash, leading the way to Boca Raton.  Graduating from Seacrest High School in Delray Beach in 1962, he graduated from the University of Florida in 1966 with his B.S. degree in Forestry and his Masters in Entomology, along with his Doctor’s in Plant Pathology.  He was employed by Mallinckrodt Chemical Works in their Specialty Ag Department, where he developed insecticides and fungicides including Truban and Bannot.

In 1970, Bob and his very best friend, Dennis Crowell, were inspired to start La Casa Verde Foliage Nursery in Boynton Beach.  During this time, Bob developed Spathiphyllum DeNeve, Philodendron Angel Wing, and a Raphodopthra.  He was active in the beginning of, and served officer positions in, the Palm Beach Wholesale Growers, the Florida Foliage Association and the Florida Foliage Foundation.  Upon the sale of La Casa Verde Foliage to Tropical Ornamentals, Bob held a position as their production manager and continued his much loved work with research and development.  As well as doing consulting work, he gave numerous lectures for ALCA and other associations.

In 1986, he took a position in Hawaii with Agratech.  While working with Tom Hayes, the Bankruptcy Trustee, Bob started Hawaiian Phoenix Seed and Foliage in Kea’au on the Big Island of Hawaii.  He was also active with the Hawaii Association of Nurserymen (HAN), and was instrumental in moving the annual trade show to Hilo.  The Hawaii Export Nursery Association (HENA) was then formed, and promoted the annual MID Pacific Horticultural Trade Show in Hilo.  He has held many positions with HENA, including President.

Bob was honored with the prestigious Governor’s Exporter of the Year Award.  Hawaiian Phoenix is currently the largest foliage plant seed producer in Hawaii, selling 90 to 100 thousand pounds of seed each year.

Bob has three children who reside in Boca Raton, Florida: Bobbie, Allison and Jennifer.  They have blessed him with six beautiful grandchildren.

Tamotsu “Tamo” Kitagawa


In Loving Memory, June 11, 1929 – August 24, 2003

Tamo KitagawaTamotsu Kitagawa, better known as “Tamo”, was born on June 11, 1929 on the Big Island.  Although an aircraft mechanic by training, Tamo’s entrepreneurial instincts led him to operate two automobile service stations in Gardena, California.  While operating his business, he became acquainted with several nurserymen who were growing ornamental plants.  He immediately recognized the potential of growing such plants in the Hawaiian Island and returned to Hawaii in the late 1960’s.

Since Tamo had limited knowledge of any agriculture, he worked for other nurserymen and spent many hours reading publications issued by various Nursery Associations.  He also made numerous calls and visited the University of Hawaii, as well as other nurseries.  Tamo’s nursery business began with the incorporation of Big Island Plant and Foliage in 1971.

When the Castle & Cooke sugar plantations in Kohala were about to close, Tamo was persuaded by the Kohala Task Force and then Lt. Governor Ariyoshi to start a nursery operation in Kohala.  Kohala Nursery was incorporated in 1973.  It was one of several businesses designed to employ the many employees who lost their jobs at the sugar plantation.  Kohala Nursery is the only Kohala Task Force project that was able to pay off its state loan, and that continues to survive today.

After viewing the potential of exporting plants to the mainland, Tamo and two partners formed what is now known as Kohala Kentia in 1982.  The successful operations of Kohala Nursery and Kohala Kentia continue to have a significant impact on the local community.  These entities combined are the largest employer in North Kohala, and continue to the development of its employees and the local economy.

While Tamo was concerned with assuring the success of his businesses, he was never satisfied with the status quo, and was particularly concerned with helping to promote the Hawaii nursery industry.  He was the first to approach Matson Navigation about shipping containers of plant material to the mainland in order to become more competitive with mainland operations.  He was always willing to help and organize others. Tamo was one of the founding members and past President of the Hawaii Export Nursery Association (HENA).

Tamo passed away on August 24, 2003.  He leaves behind a legacy that shows that hard work, determination, creativity and an abundance of friends will result in a successful business career.  He is survived by his daughter, Dawn, and three grandchildren.

Tamo, you have been a mentor and friend to many in the agricultural community.  We will surely miss you, the “Godfather of the Hawaii Foliage Industry.”  Your legacy will live on forever.

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