Surrounded by his loving family, Sen. Gil Kahele passed peacefully at 7:55 a.m. surrounded by family at Queens Medical Center.
Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi issued the following statement on the passing of Sen. Kahele:
“The Hilo community and the State of Hawai‘i today has lost a great Senator, a gentleman, and passionate advocate who cared deeply about public service and the people he represented. I am honored to have served with him and I know his fellow colleagues in the Senate feel the same.
Senator Kahele’s family thanks the public for their words of support and aloha and respectfully asks for privacy at this difficult time.
Senator Kahele’s staff will be in the office to handle the concerns and issues of the district. His Tourism and International Affairs committee will be handled by the Vice Chair, Sen. J. Kalani English.
I send heartfelt condolences to the Kahele family as we mourn the loss of this remarkable man.”
Sen. Gil Kahele, 73, has served in the Senate since 2011, when he was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie for the 2nd District, encompassing the communities of Hilo, Puna and Ka‘u on Hawai‘i Island. In 2012, he was elected to represent the community of Hilo, now known as the 1st Senatorial District as a result of reapportionment.
As a visionary and proponent for strengthening Hilo’s economy, Sen. Kahele sought ways to help create jobs and business in his district. Among his many accomplishments, Sen. Kahele was instrumental in bringing much needed funding to build the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. He also was a staunch supporter behind the creation a world-class School of Aviation at the underutilized Hilo Airport and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.
Services for Sen. Kahele are pending.
Senator Gilbert Kahele was born in the fishing village of Miloli‘i in South Kona before moving to Hilo on Hawai‘i Island. Following his graduation from Hilo High School in 1960, Senator Kahele served in the U.S. Marine Corp until 1964 and graduated from Laney College in Oakland, Calif. After a few years on the Island of O‘ahu, in 1976 he returned to his hometown in Hilo with his wife Linda to raise their family. He retired from the Hawai‘i State Department of Defense after 33 years as the Director of Public Works, Pohakuloa Training Area.