ʻImiloa Astronomy Center, an educational outreach facility at UH Hilo, features an award-winning landscape of endemic, indigenous, and Polynesian-introduced plants.
Beneficiaries of the K. L. Chock Trust have announced a gift to ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center for the continued care of its native gardens, which will now be named the Koon Leong and Bertha Luke Chock Garden.
ʻImiloa, an educational outreach facility at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, features an award-winning landscape of endemic, indigenous, and Polynesian-introduced plants. The living exhibit illustrates Native Hawaiians’ connection to the land and heavens, as patterns in the skies guided cultivation and harvest practices on Earth.
“This gift from the K. L. Chock Trust will help to support our educational mission and programs, keeping the garden area well maintained and interpreted for visitor interaction,” says Ka‘iu Kimura, executive director of the center. “Their support for the center helps to amplify the importance of ʻImiloa and its service to our broader community.”
The Chocks, active in the Hilo community almost a century ago, believed in education and learning, caring for the land, exploration, and giving back to the community. They were examples of perseverance, self-sufficiency, and foresight, and they left a lasting legacy for the benefit of future generations.
With the gift to ‘Imiloa, the family “sought a fitting way to express our gratitude for their contributions to their family and to the Hilo community,” says daughter Thelma Chock Nip on behalf of the family.
Koon Leong Chock was an active community and political party leader, a Waiākea baseball team manager, one of the founders of the Hilo Chinese School, and a builder of homes for immigrants and the underprivileged. He was the eldest in a family of nine, heading the dry goods department of American Factors, a leading kama‘āina business firm. He also operated Fong Hing, the family grocery store at the foot of the Wailoa bridge. Through his foresight and entrepreneurial spirit, he guided the family in expanding its business and real estate ventures.
Koon Leong passed away in 1942 at the age of 44. Bertha persevered, operating the family store while providing for their young children.
In addition to Thelma, the Chocks’ children Yun How Ching, Janet Young, Theodore Chock and Kenneth Chock all attended Waiākea Elementary and Waiākea Intermediate Schools. Three of the five are proud University of Hawai‘i graduates. Thelma has maintained her ties to her alma mater as a director of both the UH Alumni Association and the UH Mānoa College of Education Alumni Association; she is a 2004 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.
The family hopes the garden will be a welcoming space where members of the local community will visit, gather, discover, and learn about how the past impacts the future of the culture and environment.
Read the full story at the UH Foundation website.