Cover photo for Donald Motoomi Tsubaki's Obituary
Donald Motoomi Tsubaki Profile Photo
1932 Donald 2023

Donald Motoomi Tsubaki

June 11, 1932 — September 26, 2023

Donald Motoomi Tsubaki, 91, passed away on September 26, 2023. Donald was a resident of Davis for 48 years, settling in Davis with his family when he retired after a career in the Air Force in 1975. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on June 11, 1932, to Kiyoto and Hamako Tsubaki (Morioka), and was raised in Wailuku, Maui. He attended Henry Baldwin High School (class of 1950), the University of Hawaii in 1951, and then the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1954. He joined the Air Force in 1955 to become a pilot, graduating from pilot training in 1956, and went on to earn a master’s degree from George Washington University in 1963.

Donald spent his childhood years on the island of Maui loving airplanes and flying. Through his youth and into adulthood, he became accomplished at building and flying remote controlled model airplanes, earning many speed awards and breaking local records. He also loved and became accomplished in playing the clarinet, shooting trap and skeet, and black and white photography. His Air Force career was distinguished with international service, including service during the Vietnam War, service as a flight instructor, and many decorations. Among his notable experiences was serving in 1959 as the co-pilot of the Air Force’s first all-Hawaii crew from Travis AFB in Fairfield, CA to Hickam AFB in Hawaii right after Hawaii became our 50th state. The pilot of this flight was Lieutenant and future recording artist Don Ho, George Simabuku as navigator, Tech Sergeant Rodney Higashi, and Staff Sergeants Joshua Kim and William Chang.  He retired in 1975 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

His life after his military service was filled with home, family, and the hobbies he loved. He will be interred at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon in the Spring.

Donald is survived by his wife of 54 years, Carol Tsubaki (Large), his daughters Cynthia Tsubaki of Davis, her fiancé Rob Lynn and his son Gavin, Linda Tsubaki of Seabeck, WA, grandchildren Nicholas and Evangeline Stafford, and numerous extended family members, friends, and friends considered family.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in his name to the Maui Strong Fund ( or The Maui United Way Disaster Relief Fund (


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