“Donald was a glowing kind of person,” says Carole Mandryk, director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. “In this job, you grow really close to people, and he was the most special person I’ve been connected to since I’ve been here. One favorite memory I have of Donald is regular gifts to his teachers. He didn’t give them apples, but mangoes from his own tree, or dragonfruit he picked up at the farmers’ market – always with one of his radiating smiles.”
Excellent adventures in continuing education
OLLI offers non-credit, college-level courses and activities to encourage older people to engage their minds, enrich their lives, and serve their community. Dr. Donald Matsumori, a retired librarian at UH Mānoa, was a member since the program’s beginning in 1996.
Donald took classes in cinema, history, art, politics, cuisine, and science, and in 2001 taught a special course, “Donald’s Excellent Adventures in Vietnam,” sharing a historical overview of Vietnam highlighted with photos from his travels.
“He was taking classes three or four times a week on a variety of subjects, and was interested in all kinds of things,” says Neil Matsumori, Donald’s surviving brother.
Donald bequeathed a portion of his estate to OLLI. Mandryk says he especially enjoyed the film-based classes, watching films and talking about them. “His gift will allow us to make improvements we’ve always wanted,” she says. “We’re starting with an eight-foot television for the film classes, and enhancing the listening experience. Our noisy air conditioner makes it difficult for people to hear each other in the classroom, so we’re replacing it to enhance the viewing experience for things that were important to Donald.
“He always had new ideas for music-related classes. With his gift, we will make an effort at least once a year to have a music-themed class, paying the instructor with his funds.”
Forever a part of their journey
“Even when we were children, he was a very serious scholar,” says Donald’s brother Neil. “I just sort of played around, but he was very studious. He started piano lessons when he was a child, and that became his primary, lifelong interest. Until shortly before his death, he was the organist at Ephiphany Episcopal Church in Kaimuki.”
To assist students engaged in significant music research, Donald established the Donald Matsumori Grant Fund in 1992, then bequeathed an additional portion of his estate to bolster the fund.
Susan Jacob, a UH Mānoa graduate student in music and theater, received the grant in 2020. She wrote in a thank-you letter, “I feel honored that you chose me, and promise I’m doing my best to excel in my studies. Your donation eases the stress of paying for my education, allowing not to worry as much about finances and keep my focus on studies. Thank you for being part of my journey.”
"I mostly miss just having my brother around to talk with," says Neil Matsumori. "He wanted to know everything, and he really wasn’t ready to go, but he would be happy to know he’s helping students in these two programs to learn as much as they can."