Yamanaka family establishes scholarship at UH Hilo

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
Posted: Jan 22, 2009

"Our family—the Yamanaka‘s and the Palea‘s—are honored to establish this scholarship in the name of our parents, Hiromu and Helen Yamanaka." - Vern Yamanaka

HILO — Vern and Cathi Yamanaka, president and vice president of Yamanaka Enterprises Inc., have established an endowed scholarship to benefit students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Several additional members of the Yamanaka family have pledged to support the fund with contributions as well.

Yamanaka Enterprises Inc., a real estate brokerage firm that specializes in commercial and large parcel acquisitions, management and consultation, is ranked among the top real estate firms in Hawaiʻi. Several of Vern and Cathi‘s children are employed at the firm.

Hiromu Yamanaka received his BA from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 1943. After a 20-year career as a teacher in vocational agriculture he started his own realty company, Hiromu Yamanaka Realty, Inc. He was an integral player in the Hilo community and for many years was instrumental in the development of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, serving as an officer of the Friends of the University of Hawaiʻi, Hilo campus and co-chairing the UH Hilo Fund in 1971. He was instrumental in organizing the Hawaiʻi Island Board of Realtors and served as its first president in 1966. He was then appointed by the Governor to serve as real estate commissioner from 1965-73.

Helen Yamanaka was a graduate of Kapiʻolani Business College and worked for 26 years in a civilian capacity as an administrative assistant at Kilauea Military Camp. She also served as secretary/treasurer of Hiromu Yamanaka Realty, Inc.

The fund will benefit undergraduate students in any field at UH Hilo. Students must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, financial need will be a criterion and preference will be given to students who have graduated from high school on the Big Island.

Vern Yamanaka currently serves as a member of the UH Hilo Chancellor‘s Advisory Board.

"It‘s such a privilege to receive the gift of a permanent scholarship from a family whose members has been so closely linked to UH Hilo over three generations," said UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng.