In this upside down world we live in — with family values going by the wayside and public education continuing on a decaying path of frustration — it is indeed an inspiration to review the noble lives of people such as Jane Miyahira Kupau.
Mrs. Kupau passed away on May 8, 2010 in the serene setting of her living room warmed by the glow of the picture window that frames the Lahaina Roadstead channel and the island of Lanai, enjoying her final breaths of this life surrounded by the aloha of her husband of 35 years, John, their three children — Summer, Marlene and Jonathan — and sister Jean Miyahira.
Jane Kupau grew up in Lahaina, with much of her life spent in the Miyahira family restaurant and bar on Front Street. She went to King Kamehameha III School and on to Lahainaluna High School, where she graduated in 1962.
Then it was on to Mankato State University in Minnesota for four years to earn a degree in education and back to Maui to begin her teaching career at King Kamehameha III School.
Thus began her 36-year tenure as a teacher, mostly with second-graders and also in the early stages of computer education in public schools. She taught at both King Kamehameha III and Princess Nahienaena Elementary schools, and her dedication to the children of Lahaina was interrupted only by a bout with cancer.
She sent the insidious disease into remission and resumed her quiet march to nurture the minds of Lahaina’s children.
“Mrs. Kupau, a teacher for over 36 years, believed in creating a learning environment free of fear, pain and sorrow. We thank her for ‘healing the world’ one child at a time,” read the program at her funeral service.
At their Wahikuli home, Jane and John Kupau compounded the positive impact of their lives by raising three children of the same, genuine character that they possess.
Summer, Marlene and “Jono” grew up under their pono parenting, nurtured by the warmth of mom and dad — as well the Lahaina community — and moved on to college careers. Today, they are a lawyer, a medical technician and an educator.
Now, reflecting back to encounters of our lives with the Kupaus, we cannot help but feel that warm Lahaina glow rise up in our souls and open the gates to let the tears of joy flow from our spirits.
It is perhaps the supreme irony of life that only in death do we come to fully realize the value of the contributions of the Jane Kupaus of the world.
Our consolation is that we do see it now — the manifestation, the essence of God’s love in these people. And, hopefully, we can learn to emulate them — pattern our lives after them.
Yes, the supreme compliment goes out to Jane Kupau: I want to be like you.
Our condolences go out to her family. May you find solace in knowing that she formed this pathway of character and integrity that all of us now have the opportunity to follow.
Jane Kupau lives on in this way.
May God bless you always, and peace be with you.