Gwen Battad
Vol. 17, No. 4, Feb. 16, 1996

From the outside, Room 9 of the Wahiawa Medical Center looked like any other doctor’s office. But inside was much different. It was small by comparison to the other offices, but very cozy. The waiting room accommodated up to six people, seven if you were lucky, and contained current magazines for adults and picture books for kids. Amid the questions asked by receptionist Katie Yuen and, most recently, Mildred Miyahara, you could hear the drill buzzing in the background. When it was your turn, Dr. Haruo Kameoka appeared in the doorway, directed you to one of the two examining rooms, put the napkin “bib” around your neck, took an x-ray, put the “saliva ejector” in your mouth and started the examination. The whole process (if you didn’t have cavities) took about 15 minutes and you were on your way.

But on Feb. 1, the familiar brown door leading to Dr. Kameoka’s office closed for good. After 42 years of dentistry, 38 at the Wahiawa Medical Center, Dr. Kameoka decided to retire for health reasons.

As a patient of Dr. Kameoka since I had teeth, I was sad to see him go. He had been my parents’ dentist, and my grandparents’ dentist. But at the same time, I was happy. Dr. Kameoka had treated thousands of people during his tenure and deserved time to relax.

Like many other young people his age, Kameoka learned the trade through apprenticeship. After graduating from Leilehua High School in 1940, Kameoka wanted to go to college. But as the second of six children, finances were scarce. After high school, Kameoka became an apprentice as a dental lab technician at Dental Craft in Honolulu for five years.

When World War II broke out in 1941, dental lab technicians were considered essential to the war effort, so Kameoka was deferred from the draft. But when the war ended, Kameoka was drafted, went through basic training and was assigned to Tripler as a dental technician for a year-and-a-half.

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