Johnny Imaikalani Pastor, who could light up the stage and brighten a room with his larger-than-life personality, died July 15 at his Pearl City home he shared with his aunt. He was 52.

“His positivity in life and his exuberance to help others reflected the doctrine of Buddhism , said his aunt Barbara “Geolina” Muromoto, a retired Aiea High School drama teacher, with whom he lived after his parents and siblings died.

He was a certified (on the Mainland) medical assistant at the Rehab Hospital on Kuakini Street, until he was physically unable to perform his duties because of his personal health issues.

A year ago, Pastor was diagnosed with stage four cancer, “which he overcame,” said Muromoto. “A few months ago, his heart rate went down to 30, then went up to 60. The toil of dialysis three times a week, made his blood pressure low; once, he passed out. I hovered at him often, but he didn’t want that. He said, ‘Auntie, I’m a grown man.’”

Johnny Imaikalani Pastor

 On the day of his passing, Pastor had an appointment for dialysis at Pearlridge Center, but Muromoto went to awaken him, “He didn’t respond, so I called for help and the firemen came from two houses down where we lived, to do CPA, but it was too late.”

Kari Pastor, sister in law of Pastor, said “Johnny was larger than life, and he could always light up a room. Or I should say, the world. He was a big part of performances on stage and off.  He was the life of a party; if there was no party, he’d create his own party.  We’re going to miss him.”

When she was still teaching at Aiea, Muromoto tapped Pastor to be her artistic director. “From a small, plain musical theater, he exploded at Aiea High. The kids would open the door, and ask ‘Where’s Johnny?’ Everybody loved him.”

He attended Lincoln Elementary, but lived on the Mainland for a while, and attended both Aiea and Waipahu High, where he was Lei Day king one year.

He tooled around on an electric scooter, being independent,  and even officiated at a wedding when he was able to, to spread his mana‘o. “The Halekulani wanted him to officiate,” said Muromoto, attesting to his capabilities and popularity.

A seat honoring Pastor at Kaimuki High.

His acting colleagues at Kumu Kahua, Manoa Valley Theatre, Kaimuki High School Theatre, Ohia Productions and I’m a Bright Kid Foundation have flooded Facebook with postings proclaiming Pastor’s vigor, energy, will power and zest.  Devon Nekoba, a fellow actor, posted a photo of an empty seat at Kaimuki, ladened with lei and cheer, in memory of Pastor. “For you Johnny, front row center, just like always. Miss and love you,” in conjunction with a performance of Lisa Matsumoto’s “Once Upon One Time” show produced by MVT.

A posting suggesting a seat elsewhere to remember Pastor.

In a related post intended to rev up support, Nekoba added: “Could the local theatres hold one front row seat for him at one performance? He would get such a kick out of that.”
Tafa‘i Tafa‘i  seized a moment on Facebook for his salute to Pastor, saying “Although I did not know (you) very well, I could feel your alofa (aloha) bursting form your heart. You. Were a staunch supporter of the performing arts, always at one play or another, or eating up a storm at some eatery. You inspire me to live life to the fullest….Fly with angels, my friend.

Yet another Nekoba share, via Facebook.

Pastor, like many other island actors, was inspired by the example of the late Ron Bright, in being professional and deeply committed to the performance art. He appeared in numerous Bright-directed productions, always bringing joy and jubilance via his larger-than-life demeanor. The other influential ‘ohana for his training and credentials: Ohi’a Productions, and the legacy Matsumoto pidgin fairytale musicals.

Pastor regularly dressed to the nines and easily stole the limelight whenever he attended a performance. He often posted sage, sunny reviews of shows he attended, wearing the hat of a critic.

“Johnny wanted to set an example for others in his situation, to take charge of his life,” said Muromoto. “He cooked his own meals, went shopping, and clearly tried to take care of himself.”

Pastor hoped to live through Christmas, so the July passing fell short of his desired goal. Many of his peers are gleefully buzzing, that Pastor already is making his presence know amid the glow of two gurus of island theater, Matsumoto and Bright.

“He talked about a Celebration of Life, after his passing, and I’ll do it,” said aunt Muromoto, who said she has budgeting for his last hurrah, likely on Jan. 27, 2023, at the Kaimuki High theater.

Funeral services will be held Oct. 29 at the Mililani Mortuary in Waipio. Details will be announced. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


    1. I believe planners are discussing the how-and-where of kokua from friends and fans. No specifics shared yet, but if and when a fund is established, will post something in the column.Johnny’s auntie is organizing, and we talked about some specifics that Johnny might have wanted but not verbalized.

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