Sadly, former CTAHR Ka Lei Hano awardee Ernest Tottori passed away on October 3 at the age of 85. Chairman of HPC Foods and its iconic Taro Brand, he was honored at the college’s 2016 Annual Awards Banquet.
The grandson of an immigrant dairyman/farmer and poi miller, he headed the state’s largest poi and sprout producer, HPC Foods. A longtime supporter of the college, Ernest was an innovator, expanding the market to mainland expatriates with frozen poi and value-added products, often in partnership with fellow producers such as Aloha Tofu and Chun Wah Kam Noodle Factory. He was a producer who understood the farmer and a businessman who understood his suppliers and customers.
Maria Gallo, then dean and director for research and Cooperative Extension at CTAHR, called him an “invaluable resource to the college and to Hawai‘i” and said, “Ernest brings the voice of experience, both within the local food industry and as a member of the CTAHR Advisory Council. He demonstrates how to pair hard work with entrepreneurship to carry a family business successfully into the fourth generation.”
Ernest’s memorial service will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 30, at Mililani Memorial Park and Mortuary’s Mauka Chapel. Visitation will be 5:00 p.m.