Joyful. Funny. Witty. Classy. Clever. Rascal. Beloved. These are just some of the words that have been used to describe Lili Yuriko Tokuda. The Donkey Mill ‘ohana is deeply honored to know her and to have been her “second home,” as she lovingly called it. Everyone looked forward to seeing Lili at the Mill on Thursdays; her energy attracted countless people to gather together, enjoy a meal, and talk-story. Her spirit is very much alive and present at the Mill through the lasting impression she has left on those that were fortunate enough to know her.
Lili gave generously to the Mill in every way she could; through countless volunteer hours, her famous home-cooked potluck meals, cleaning high and low, and through generous financial support. Her dedication demonstrated to all of us what true friendship and aloha looks like. In 2020 on Lili’s 97th birthday, she decided to retire from volunteering at the Mill. For 16 years, Lili volunteered every Thursday and it is estimated that she volunteered over 5,000 days, equalling over 25,000 hours of dedicated service to the Mill. She was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the County of Hawai‘i to great fanfare and celebration. On her 100th birthday earlier this year, Mayor Mitch Roth issued a proclamation that henceforth February 14th shall be known as Lili Tokuda Day for Hawai‘i County.
The legacy of the Donkey Mill Art Center would not be possible without the support of many who believe in the mission to build a better and stronger community. Lili and her beautiful ‘ohana (Terry, Gudrun, Sage, Tlaloc and Jay) have contributed to our fundraising and educational programming for over 15 years. Throwing hundreds of bowls for our Cool Fusion events, harvesting wauke and preparing the fiber for our paper making projects, teaching silk screening during Project Art, and endless amounts of hana hana that involved setting up for events, building, cleaning, and restoring. Lili also made our Thursday lunch potlucks very popular by centralizing sharing food and stories and it became the heartbeat of our community kitchen. People would call just to ask if Lili was there so they could come for a visit. The famous dishes she shared included flan, salmon cakes with caper sauce, egg foo young, fried eggplant, rum cake and chirashi rice. Lili always raised the bar and made every Thursday special. We all will continue to aspire to be more like Lili each day.
A memorial service for Lili was held on September 16, 2023 at Kona Baptist Church. The family requests in lieu of flowers to consider a donation to the Donkey Mill in memory of Lili Yuriko Tokuda. If you are so inclined, you can also write Lili a last letter about how she impacted your life or reminisce about the good times you shared. If you would like to make a gift in memory of Lili, you can do so online here or mail donations to: Donkey Mill Art Center, 78-6670 Mamalahoa Hwy, Holualoa, HI 96725. Letters to Lili may be mailed to the same address or emailed to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will forward them to the family.
ありがと ございました ~ Arigatogozaimashita, Lili-sama.
To read more about Lili Tokuda’s incredible life and some of her writings, please visit her blog: https://beinglili.com/.