A Celebration of Life will be held on April 12 for Dr. Alan Yabui. He died on Feb. 24 at age 81 from a head injury from a fall. He had also been dealing with chronic kidney failure and Alzheimer’s disease.
Born in 1940 at the Lahaina Pioneer cannery camp hospital in Maui, Yabui spent his childhood in Lahaina.
He served over 24 years in the United States Air Force as a commissioned officer and earned the rank of lieutenant colonel. He served in Vietnam as a radar weapons controller and as an air defense staff officer at the Tactical Air Control Center. As the commander of the 570th Strategic Missile Squadron, he helped to successfully deactivate 18 Titan II strategic missiles at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.
“You didn’t apply, you were picked from a small number of eligible lieutenant colonels. Timing is one thing, but to even be on that list is testament to his leadership and skill as a Missileer,” said Michael Yaguchi, Nisei Veterans Committee Commander.
Yabui also served as the Vice Commander of the Nisei Veterans Committee from 2004-2005.
In addition, Yabui was active on the Seattle JACL Board in the early 2000s.
Bill Tashima, former JACL president, said, “Alan was a strong supporter of JACL events, along with Kiku Hayashi (who passed last fall), always cheerful with a warm welcoming smile.”
Yabui worked to make the first pilgrimage to Minidoka happen and had a role in the National Endowment for the Humanities grant that funded the Day of Remembrance at Bellevue College in 2007.
Yabui joined Bellevue Community College in 1993, teaching communications and later Hawaiian Studies, retiring in 2015. He was an incredibly popular faculty member among all students who saw him as accessible and friendly, but especially among international students who found his intercultural communications course to be a space where they could thrive. Yabui’s work in intercultural communications was cited when the college won the Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization.
Yabui was president of the Bellevue College Association of Higher Education (faculty association) for two terms, and vice president at various times from 1999 through 2012.
He was one of the founders of the Bellevue College grassroots leadership Diversity Caucus, along with Sayumi Irey and Leslie Lum. Bellevue College honored Yabui in 2016 as one of the “Exceptional 50” for “exceptional growth and development of the college.”
Yabui is survived by his wife Carol, three children, three grandchildren, and five stepchildren, and seven step grandchildren.
The Celebration of Alan’s Life on April 12 will be held at Bellevue College cafeteria (C Building) from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Wear your best Hawaiian outfit.
Contact Leslie Lum at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.