Eric Tetsu Hayashi faithfully served his island community through the Hawaii Fire Department in the city of Hilo for 25 years. He served in various stations, with his last days of duty at the Laupahoehoe Fire Station as a fire equipment operator. Eric, affectionately known to many as “Buta,” took tremendous pride in his job as a firefighter. He was grateful to have been accepted into the department, truly loved his job, and found great satisfaction in helping others.
His greatest treasures were not in fame or fortune but in family and friends. He loved meeting and talking to anyone, using his innate ability to make friends wherever he went. Many friendships were lifelong, formed at a young age through school and sports, and his family grew even larger when his fellow firefighters became his “fire family.” The love, support, and compassion from family, friends, and the special brotherhood of his fire family has left an everlasting impression on his family. If friends and family could be counted as wealth, Eric was a millionaire many times over.
Eric lived life to the fullest and was always busy fulfilling his desires. He was an avid fisherman, hunter, and sportsman. His love of the ocean, whether on a boat or on the shore, took him on many exciting adventures. His love of rock hunting took him to many places in Hawaii and Canada, where he enjoyed the thrill of bagging a trophy bird, goat, wild boar, deer, sheep, or elk. His love of sports afforded him the pleasure of participating in Little League baseball during his youth and softball in his later years. His love of children led him to coach T-ball for many years, enabling him to repay the Lincoln Wreckers Athletic Club, the youth organization which enriched his love of baseball and taught him many life lessons. Eric loved to cook, allowing others to enjoy his culinary talent, especially his fellow firefighters. He loved posting pictures of his creations, leaving many drooling over his plated meals and trying to re-create his many dishes.
His sudden passing on August 8, 2020, at age 49, left everyone in disbelief with an aching heart. It is a small consolation that while on an emergency medical call, administering CPR to a patient, Eric passed doing what he loved most, helping others. We miss his infectious smile and laughter, as well as his trademark greeting—”What’s up?“ He was eagerly looking forward to retiring in December and was excitedly planning the next phase of his life. Although he is no longer physically with us, we still feel his presence as the angel on our shoulder protecting us.