Michelle H. Tucker and Judge Frances Q. F. Wong Inducted Into Hall of Honor


Michelle Tucker (left) and Judge Frances Wong pose after the revealing ceremony in front of the main office. Photo by Shane Kaneshiro.

Shane Kaneshiro

Michelle Tucker was born in Michigan. Her family later moved to California and then to a little town in Switzerland for the next six years. After that, she, her sister, Danielle Tucker, and her mom returned to the United States where she and her sister attended McKinley.
While at McKinley, Tucker felt lost due to recently moving to the United States and felt as though she wasn’t what she used to be. However, the students and teachers were very supportive of her.
“I just found that everyone was very welcoming and very supportive and very smart. And I just felt very welcomed at McKinley,” Tucker told The Pinion.
One of her teachers, Neal Takamori, graded one of her papers and wrote on it, “You can do anything that you want to.” That note inspired her for the rest of her life.
Tucker would go on to graduate after only two years at McKinley. She majored in physical education, but later found out it wasn’t for her.“That didn’t stay on very long because there were no jobs in PE, and I quickly discovered that I needed a job. And PE wasn’t taking me there,” said Tucker.
While having a part time job as a bookkeeper, Tucker took some classes in accounting which she thought would be relevant to her job. She would find out that if she took enough accounting classes by the time she graduated from college, she could become a certified public accountant.
“That’s what happened. When you put one foot in front of the other and before you know it, you’re doing all these things you never knew you would,” said Tucker.
Tucker and her law school classmate, Judith Sterling, were officemates as a CPA and an attorney. Being compatible, with qualities of caring, competent, passionate and very energetic toward working, they formed Sterling and Tucker.
“I am the Tucker and she’s the Sterling. Neither of us is leading the charge,” Tucker said.
During that formation, there were three companies that were created. The first one was Sterling & Tucker LLP, which helps with estate planning. The second one is Sterling & Tucker Inc. which does tax preparations and Certified Public Accountant for individuals and small businesses. The last one is Hawaii Partners 3D Wealth Advisors, which is a firm that provides financial and investment planning services to retirees for life.
“Forget about knowing exactly where you’re going,” Tucker said. “Every step you take, do it well.”

Judge Frances Wong in her senior year 1969
Michelle Tucker in her junior year 1972.

Judge Frances Q. F. Wong, Class of 1969 and Michelle H. Tucker, Class of 1972, were inducted into the McKinley High School Hall of Honor on Jan. 27 along with friends and family of the inductees and with the student body in attendance. Edison Chong nominated both Judge Wong and Tucker for bringing honor to the school and community through their achievements and contributions.
During Judge Wong’s time at McKinley, she found that many of her teachers were committed to their subject, teaching and engaging the students.
“They (teachers) gave me a great education. I thrived because I just loved learning and loved to wonder. I thrived because I had a strong family. I thrived with supportive friends and I thrived because I was part of the McKinley Theater Group.”
After graduating from McKinley as a valedictorian in 1969, she went to college at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Judge Wong practiced as a lawyer for five years. “I loved private practice, the way we did it was such an adrenaline infused activity. You’re always on and we had really great corporate clients. So that was a lot of fun,” said Judge Wong.
However, she struggled to balance work and family.
“[It] meant more than 12 hour days. It meant that you didn’t have a weekend, it meant that you didn’t have holidays. We had some really tense projects,” said Judge Wong. “I can’t do this, I have to raise the kids… it’s not the kind of mom I wanted to be.”
Therefore Judge Wong needed to back off from such intense cases. At that time, she began branching out into smaller cases as a part time family court judge. A third of the time, she was in the circuit jury criminal trial and the rest was in family court.
“That made it even more manageable,” said Judge Wong.
Upon retirement, Judge Wong attended seminary and was ordained as a minister of the United Church of Christ. “We can respect each other. Be kind to each other” Judge Wong advised. “Celebrate your time at McKinley and celebrate diversity.”
Through life’s struggles, she gained experience, a strong family, and supportive friends. Judge Wong said, “It is the stuff that helps you thrive; your family, close friends, your faith, community.” Judge Wong also said, “I have a group of friends that have been together since elementary school. We are still active; we are all 70.”

Michelle Tucker has been awarded Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, First in Hawaii among the first 30 nationwide to become certified estate law planning specialists, Honorable mention for placing in the top 70 out of 50,000 in 1977 CPA exam, As Certified Financial Planner a Honolulu Magazine” and Hawaii business award recipient “five star wealth manager,” as a promising entrepreneur “Finalist Outstanding Young People” presented by Hawaii Jaycees, “Young Career Woman of the Year” presented by the Hawaii Federation of Business and Professional Women, for community service “special Recognition Award” Presented by Hawaii Community Services Council, and “President’s Award” presented by Hawaii Women Lawyers.

Judge Frances Wong was awarded the Hawaii Women’s Lawyers 2002 Outstanding Judicial Achievement Award and The Hawaii State Bar Association’s 2009 Presidential Award for Distinguished service and outstanding achievement that best exemplifies the mission of the Hawaii State Bar Association. In 2009, Judge Wong received the Jurist of the Year award from Chief Justice Ronald Moon.