Memorial service for slain teacher

Julie Buto
Julie Buto
Byrnes Yamashita
Byrnes Yamashita

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - More than a 1000 mourners wait in line to say a final farewell to slain Waianae High School teacher Asa Yamashita.

Family, friends and students both past and present paid their respects to the teacher they loved so much.

Yamashita was fatally stabbed at a busy Oahu shopping center two weeks ago. Wednesday evening, her life and legacy was celebrated at a Nu'uanu mortuary.

Streams of supporters stretching out to the sidewalk, flowers and solemn hugs set the scene as a 1000-plus people try to heal from tragedy.

"It's very difficult, it was a great shock and we've lost a great friend," said Asa's friend Julie Buto.

Everyone has their story of what made Asa special.

"The way she cared about people and just her care free type attitude," said a mourner.

"Right now we're here to support Bryan and his two girls," said Buto.

The 43-year-old's husband Bryan and other family arrive.

"Bryan and the two girls are doing as well as anyone can expect," said Bryan's brother Byrnes Yamashita.

Asa's brother-in-law Byrnes says they always knew she was a great sister, wife and mother, but didn't realize the magnitude of her impact on others.

"The response from the public community especially the folks out in Waianae that worked with her and were her students has really touched our hearts and opened our eyes to the contributions she made to the community," said Byrnes Yamashita.

"We're all better for knowing Asa," said Buto.

With a smile that could light up any room, the persistence to push students to strive for excellence, to Asa's belief in the importance of books, friends and family say someone so special, can never be forgotten.

Along with a bookmark dedicated to Asa, each person also took home quotes personal to the family. One read:

"She is in better hands now and feels no pain. She has made a great addition to the beauty of heaven."

A private ceremony will be held for Asa Yamashita's cremation.