Okabayashi named Employee of the Quarter

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Date: Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, 974-7642

For Immediate Release

Employee of the Quarter Raymond Okabayashi

When it comes to making the University of Hawaii at Hilo look good, for the past 27 years nobody has done it better than Raymond Okabayashi. Hired as a janitor in 1979, he transferred to the Auxiliary Services ground crew in 1989, where he has served as a tractor mower operator ever since.

Whether he’s mowing grass on campus or picking up fallen branches or rubbish in the parking lots, Okabayashi always does it with a smile, making sure that UH Hilo presents the desired impressions of both beauty and aloha.

For his efforts, Okabayashi has been named the Administrative Affairs Employee of the Quarter.

“Ray is a terrific worker and a heck of a nice guy,” wrote a UH Hilo staffer who nominated Okabayashi for the award. “In addition to his regular job, Ray performs maintenance and minor repairs on the riding mowers, saving the University hundreds of dollars yearly. He also helps out on all the major logistical assignments, helping to move office furniture and contents, helping to set up for graduation and countless other tasks.

“Even when he is done with his regular shift, Ray always accepts overtime weekend assignments to clean up after Athletic games, Theatre performances, student activities, etc. And Ray consistently also shows up and volunteers at community service days like Make-A-Difference Day and Good Neighbor Day.”

For Okabayashi, the recognition couldn’t come at a more opportune time. A single father, he is retiring at the end of December to spend more time with his daughter, Nalani, 17, and his two sons, Scott, 12, and Cody Ray, 10.

“I’m going to do things with the kids, work around the house and just enjoy life and stay young,” Okabayashi said. “I love my job, so I feel both happy and sad about retiring. But it is nice being recognized. I want to thank (Auxiliary Services Officer) Kolin Kettleson and (Janitor Supervisor) Alan Sugiura and everybody I work with.

“I work with some great people, the grounds crew, who are my good friends, and the faculty, staff and students at UH Hilo. I will miss everyone.”

Okabayashi’s nominator concluded by calling him “a great ambassador for UH Hilo,” affirming what those who encounter his smiling face and friendly demeanor daily already know.

On the UH Hilo campus, everybody loves Raymond.

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