Diane Kukahiko
Diane Kukahiko
Year: Class of 2014
Sport: College of Marin Athletics Department Secretary

Secretary Diane Kukahiko, who was the much beloved spirited front line of enthusiasm for the College of Marin Athletic Department for more than two decades, can’t think of a better way to have spent her professional career.

Whether she was greeting new athletes, cooking up hot dogs for the football team crowds or supporting the vision of one of her eight bosses, it was the perfect job for her. 

“The students keep you young,” she says.

For Kukahiko, who is known for her energetic presence, College of Marin was an opportunity to start a new chapter after retiring from a career at Pacific Bell. 

A native of Hawaii, she joined the U.S. Air Force after high school and served six years. She was an Airman First Class stationed in Germany as a Teletype operator. It was an adventurous time and while she was learning discipline and responsibility, she was also just having a blast competing in athletic events all over Europe.

Always athletic, she had an opportunity to play sports on the weekends. She excelled as a forward on the basketball court and a setter on the volleyball team. She played badminton, softball and was an exceptional competitor on the tennis court, winning in 1958, a European tournament involving all of the military branches. She even beat her own commanding officer who was also her doubles partner and got to fly from Germany to Biloxi, Mississippi to compete. 

“I took every opportunity I could by doing all of these things while I was in the service,” she said in an article (2012) in the Marin Independent Journal. “I didn't waste any time enjoying myself, I had a wonderful time... I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

After the service, Kukahiko worked for Pacific Bell until she retired in 1987. She came to California and heard about the College of Marin job opening from her cousin, Lonnie Wernstrom, who was working on campus at the time. She thought then-Athletic Director Pete Limm would want a younger candidate but he hired her on the spot and gave her free reign to develop the job.

“It was just a great job,” Kukahiko said, noting that each of the eight different directors she’s worked under has been equally wonderful. “I just loved getting up and going to work every day. I thoroughly enjoyed it.” Part of the joy was getting to be part of the vibrant athletic community.

“I just loved all of the sports,” she said.

Over the years she’s taken quite a few of the classes at the College including zumba, aerobics and tennis. But, most of all, it has been the students who have filled a special place in her heart.

With undiminished enthusiasm, retirement, she says, is also grand. She is gardening, reading and catching up on relaxing.

“It’s really been wonderful,” she says. “I’m really enjoying my retirement.”