Puna News — Nathan Keliikuli Died In A Surfing Accident

(Media release) — A Big Island man died today, Thursday (May 10), from a surfing injury in lower Puna.

The victim has been identified as 42-year-old Nathan Keliikuli of Keaʻau.

At 10 a.m., Puna Patrol officers responded to a report of a surfing accident at Pohoiki Beach.

Officers learned that Keliikuli had reportedly fallen and hit his jaw on his surfboard while surfing. 
Lifeguards found him unconscious and took him to shore, where they attempted cardio-pulmonary resuscitation until Fire Department rescue personnel arrived and took him to Hilo Medical Center in critical condition.

Keliikuli was pronounced dead at the hospital at 11:13 a.m.

The case is classified as a coroner’s inquest. Police have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

(Submitted by Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)

Obituaries — Samuel  C. Santos Has Passed Away At 56

(Editor’s note: The following obituary for Samuel Santos, 56, from Borthwick Funeral Home marks the commencement of Big Island Chronicle’s effort to publish online all obituaries related to the Big Island. Submit obituaries via email to newswoman@mac.com.)
Samuel  C. Santos, 56, of Pahoa, died April 4, 2012 at Hilo Medical Center.  He was born in Honolulu.  Celebration of life will be held at Shannan and Muggy’s home on Saturday April 28, 2012 at 2:00pm at 15-693 North Puni Mauka Loop, Hawaiian Beaches in Pahoa.  He is survived by his wife Alfreida A. Santos of Pahoa; sons Samuel C. K. (Dorothy) Santos of Volcano, Shaun P. K. (Tiffany) Santos of Pahoa; daughters Shannan L. M. (Philip “Muggy”) Isabel of Pahoa, Allison I. K. Santos of Pahoa; brother Daniel (Ranalee) Perreira of Honokaa; sisters Cherlene Santos of Oahu, Florine Elarco of Kohala; sister-in-law Cynthia Santos of Tennessee; 12 grandchildren;  numerous nieces and nephews.  Arrangements by Borthwick Hawaii Funeral Home, Hilo.

Letters — Regarding Puna Keli’iho’omalu

Puna Keli'iho'omalu photos courtesy of Jim Brobeck.

The Big Island Chronicle is a part of my media viewing since visiting the Big Island with my mate a couple years ago. Our deepest feelings were engendered while visiting Uncle Robert’s Awa bar where we met Puna and his family. I enjoyed many happy times listening to and playing music with Puna. He blew my mind one afternoon singing improvised verses in Hawaiian to a love song I made up for my mate. His enormous heart touched me forever.
I will attach a few photos of this great man for you to share. I don’t know if Puna’s ohana will check his email, but I’ll send this to his email too.
Jim Brobeck
Chico, California

Jim Brobeck (L) and Puna Keli'iho'omalu in Kalapana.

Noteworthy Obituaries — Kona’s Wattie Hedemann Burial Saturday

A descendant of Hawaiian royalty and well-known Kona realtor has succumbed to heart disease. Wattie Mae Hedemann, 84, died Nov. 15 at Kona Community Hospital. One of the first flight of female attendants for Hawaiian Airlines, mother of a Vietnam War hero and widow of an award-winning paniolo, Mrs. Hedemann claimed descent to the royal chiefs of Hawaii through her mother, Annie Ilikea-a-Moana Robinson Owens of Honolulu.
Mrs. Hedemann was married for 57 years to the late Edmund Hedemann, a paniolo and polo horse trainer at Kualoa on Oahu and the Big Island who died in 2005. She is survived by a sister, Harriet (Francis) Tom of Honolulu; daughter Meta (Shane) Eckart of Keauhou, son George (Debbie) Hedemann of Honalo; stepson Edmund (Ruth) Hedemann Jr. of New York City, stepdaughter Jeremy Hedemann Heath of Canterbury, England; seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. A memorial service is planned for 10 a.m. Dec. 3 at Christ Church in Kealakekua.
The Hedemanns lost Wattie’s first-born, son Wayne H. Hedemann, when he was shot down over Cambodia in May 1970. The couple received word of the 24-year-old Army helicopter gunner’s death the same day local newspapers published a letter from the Hedemanns supporting President Nixon’s expansion of the Vietnam conflict into the neighboring country. The date also happened to be Mother’s Day that year. Wayne Hedemann was awarded two Distinguished Flying Cross medals, one posthumously, for bravery in saving lives. His military service in Vietnam lasted two months. Mrs. Hedemann was working on a book in memory of her deceased son at the time of her passing.
Mrs. Hedemann’s maternal grandmother, Heleaka Napuaenaena Kawananakoa Kahalewai Robinson — Ada, as she was familiarly known — was the grandniece of Mataio Kekuanaoa, royal governor of Oahu from 1839 to 1864 and the last kuhina nui of the Hawaiian Islands, and the niece of Kekuanaoa’s sons, Kings Kamehameha IV and Kamehameha V. Mrs. Robinson’s mother and Kamehameha IV and V shared the same grandfather, Nahiolea, brother of Kaiana and Namakeha.
Mrs. Hedemann was born May 21, 1927 to Annie and Edward G. Owens of Honolulu. Mrs. Owens was soon left a widow with five children to raise on her own and Mrs. Hedemann remembers a life of poverty, despite the family’s royal heritage. Other branches of the Hawaiian family did what they could to help the Owens children. Mrs. Hedemann said she wasn’t too proud to accept “the family hand-me-downs” and she found her first job at age 12, bringing a neighbor’s lst grader safely to and from school “so I’d make five cents every day, enough to pay for my school lunch.”
Her mother spoke only Hawaiian until she was forced to learn English when she went to Kamehameha Schools. But Mrs. Hedemann and her siblings were never allowed to speak Hawaiian and she died regretting that she had never learned her native language. She said she didn’t really take any interest in her Hawaiian heritage until her mother was dying in 1973. It was then that Mrs. Owens insisted that Mrs. Hedemann learn the family’s royal genealogy.
Wattie was a young teen when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. She was with a friend attending church when people started coming into the church, crying and gathering their children. “We just thought it was maneuvers,” Mrs. Hedemann recalled. “Then the priest told us to go home immediately because we were under attack from enemy planes. We weren’t sure who was attacking us.”
She stayed with her friend as her mother was far across town and that evening, the two girls accompanied the friend’s mother who was a midwife as she drove to deliver a baby near Fort Shafter. “We sat in the car and watched the fires at Pearl Harbor.” She said everyone was issued gas masks at the beginning of the war and they had to dig shelters in their yards.
During the war years, anyone aged 16 and older had to have some sort of occupation, either a job or picking pineapples, or if nothing else, rolling bandages at the Red Cross. Her first real job was at the YMCA where she was a waitress for a month before getting a job at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. “I had to go on the ferry to work and we could see the graveyards of the ships.”
She and her sister soon were assigned to the USO (United Service Organizations Inc.) where they performed dance for two shows a day, six days a week at military camps around Oahu. The assignment helped them survive the war years because they were chaperoned and had dinners at the officers’ clubs “every single night…we could give away our rationing.”
On their days off, they went to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel to dance with the officers. She met Wayne’s father at one of those dances when his date didn’t show and he talked her into going to dinner with him “since he’d made all these dinner arrangements.” They were married six weeks when he was shipped off to Saipan. “I felt he married me because he felt so sorry for my family’s circumstances.” Presuming he’d die in the war, Wattie said, “He figured I could use the $10,000 life insurance to better myself.”
The couple divorced shortly after the war and Wattie was in the offices of Hawaiian Airlines within two months of her son’s birth seeking a job. Her charm and personality skills first developed as an entertainer and supporter of the military through her years with the USO served her throughout her professional life, first with Hawaiian Airlines, then in advertising and insurance sales, a stint with the Hawaii Visitors Bureau and travel consulting before moving to Kona in 1961 and becoming a realtor. In 1965, she established her own realty business, West Hawaii Realty Inc.,
It was while working with Hawaiian Airlines that she met her second husband, Edmund Hedemann, a U.S. Marine during the war, and gave birth to her daughter, Meta, and second son, George.
Hired by Ruby Pua, Hawaiian Airlines’ chief hostess when the airliner had three planes, DC3s carrying 21 passengers each, she thoroughly enjoyed being one of the first female flight attendants. Soon pushing her developing interests in education and the preservation of Hawaiian culture, it was Mrs. Hedemann who created an unofficial dictionary of Hawaiian place names and their meanings that flight attendants and the HVB used for many years. Taking her young son with her to the library on her days off to do the necessary research, she eventually spent half a century researching Hawaiian history.
She said she completed her family genealogy back to 190 A.D., corrected and confirmed by the Hawaii State Archives. As a result of her research, Mrs. Hedemann became obsessed in her later years with what she termed “setting the record straight” regarding Hawaiian history. It was a cause promoted initially by her maternal grandfather, George D. Robinson, who challenged historical accounts of royal paternity and documented collusion by Hawaii’s 19th Century business community leading to Hawaiian disinheritance through flawed land titles.
Wattie said her studies of the Hawaiian monarchy and subsequent research into land titles immediately preceding and as a result of the Great Mahele led her to see the irony of her family’s marriages with plantation owners and other foreign-born businessmen of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In a meeting held with representatives of state agencies and Hawaiian organizations at the Royal Mausoleum in the 1990s, Mrs. Hedemann pushed for the disinterment of the bodies of Princess Ruth Keelikolani and Kekuanao’a for DNA testing to prove Princess Ruth’s paternity. A Sept. 14, 1999 letter from the state attorney general suggested Mrs. Hedemann hire a private attorney to pursue DNA testing of the royal bones, citing “the special status of bones in Hawaiian belief and tradition.”
According to Mrs. Hedemann, she thought she had standing as an ancestor of the royal line to seek DNA testing but didn’t have necessary financial resources to do so and Hawaii media at the time were dominated by news of the scandal involving Bishop Estate trustees which led to the removal of all but one of the trustees.
Mrs. Hedemann kept up her quest for correcting history until her final days in 2011. In addition to working on a book giving her version of Hawaiian history, she continued her commitment to the perpetuation of her native culture. “I had a vision about a year ago,” she said, and organized a meeting with a representative of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, with the goal of getting OHA to put all Hawaiian Crown lands into food production.
Mrs. Hedemann was a past member of Daughters of Hawaii, the Kona Hawaiian Civic Club, Kona Historical Society, Kona Outdoor Circle, Kona Salvation Army, Kona Soroptimist International Club, Kona Christian Women’s Club and the American Association of Retired Persons’ Chapter 3475. She was a founding member and officer of the Hawaii Island Board of Realtors, the Kona Board of Realtors and the dissolved Kona Local Development Corp. She also initiated real estate classes in Kona.
(Submitted by Frankie Stapleton.)

Hawaii News — Half-Staff Flags For Former Mayor Matayoshi

Image courtesy of the Hawaii House blog

(Media release) - Governor Neil Abercrombie has ordered that all national and Hawai’i flags at all State offices and agencies as well as the Hawai’i National Guard are to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Monday, August 15, 2011 in memory of former Hawai’i County Mayor Herbert Matayoshi.

Matayoshi passed away last month.  He was Hawai’i County’s second elected mayor in 1974 and served until 1984.  

“Herb Matayoshi was a politician of the old school – thoughtful, supportive, encouraging, and selfless – it was never about him,” Governor Abercrombie said.  “No matter what the issue, no matter what the circumstance, he always put Hawai’i first. He had a calm consideration not just for the facts but for what they meant for Hawai’i.”

A celebration of life service was be held in Honolulu last week and another service will be held in Hilo on Monday. 

(Submitted by Donalyn Dela Cruz.)

Hawaii News — A Memoriam For Ted Braxton

Photos by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.


(A version of this story appears in the June 8, 2011 edition of the Big Island Weekly.)

By Tiffany Edwards Hunt

Friends and family of a 22-year-old University of Hawaii-Hilo student fatally struck on his moped by an alleged drunk driver Memorial Day weekend are speaking out about the kind of person he was and how his death shouldn’t be in vain.

Theodore “Ted” Braxton’s grandmother, Lara, from her home in Pennsylvania, wrote on bigislandchronicle.com that Ted Braxton “had come home” when he moved to Hawaii four years ago.

“He loved Hawaii and his goal post graduation was to lead a choir on the stage he helped to build at age 18,” said Lara Braxton of Ted. “He wanted to give back and be a help in the place he called home.  In the truest sense of the word, he was and will forever remain a Hawaiian.  His precious ashes are there.”

Through blog entries, Facebook page status updates, or in testimony at a Kalapana memorial, family and friends described a fun-loving, brilliant person who loved music, performing arts, books, philosophy, spirituality, communal living, and women.  Some described him as “the James Dean of Puna,” others, “Casanova,” even “John Wayne” for the way he once rode a horse bareback.

At his June 3 memorial, a man who met Ted at Kehena Beach spoke of trading “Blues Brothers” sunglasses to learn some guitar licks.  A University of Hawaii-Hilo student he met on a campus park bench recalled meeting him in those same sunglasses as Ted recommended to him “The Black Keys,” which is now his favorite band.

A lesbian twice his age told of being tempted by his flirtatious eyes; two women described the debonair lover they found in Ted and one former girlfriend wrote asking that her words about Ted be read at his memorial.

“I will never forget you Ted. I will never forget our first kiss on top of Akaka falls or watching the lava pour into the ocean under the full moon, or how you would climb up coconut trees just to make me juice for breakfast,” Katherine “Kate” Schofield wrote.  “You were too beautiful for this earth, I always told you that, and now it is true.”

Jeri Negrillo, Ted’s most recent girlfriend, Jeri Negrillo, with Ted’s brother Sam Braxton, shared excerpts of his voluminous writings and poems in moleskin journals. Read more

***Commentary*** Regarding Ted Braxton, AKA ‘Bacchus Van Proletariat’

Interestingly enough I wasn’t “friends” with Theodore “Ted” Braxton on Facebook, so I didn’t know the photo above was his profile picture.  I found that out tonight as I was looking him up and discovering he went by a nom de plume:  Bacchus Van Proletariat.  As I came upon this picture tonight, I remember myself studying it for the longest time yesterday at his memorial in Kalapana.  I love the composition of this photograph. It lends so well to the story about a brilliant 22-year-old University of Hawaii-Hilo student I knew all too briefly as his student newspaper advisor.  As you know, Ted died Saturday, May 28, 2011 from injuries he sustained from a moped crash into a Ford van driven by an allegedly intoxicated 41-year-old Kealaokalani Kailianu.

I sit here tonight with about 13 Post-it notes of my thoughts on his memorial, trying to organize my mind to put together some sort of story summarizing this past week.  “Bacchus Van Proletariat,” I type out my Google search. I try to piece it all together.  Proletariat” signifies the working class. Through “Bacchus” I find the Greek god of wine, ritual madness and ecstasy and realize that Bacchus is the Roman version.  I flash on all the women that spoke of relationships with him, the reference to Ted being the “James Dean of Puna,” even a “cassanova.”  I would love to know how he came to his nom de plume, I really would.

If only I could read through those moleskin journals that he left behind.  Those journals are priceless for the family, preserving for all time the stream of consciousness of such a compelling person.  His grandmother told of his recent fascination with Rumi.  Ecstatic love poems from the eighth and nine centuries.  Rumi actually means “Roman.”  Oh, hello.  I’m telling you, I think Ted was a mystic.  I about fell over when Ted’s father told me that he was a religious studies professor.  How totally appropriate that his Pennsylvania-born father teaches about the  world’s religions and the brain’s tendency to be religious.  I think that anybody who interacted with Ted must have tapped into a sort of spiritual consciousness he had that we can’t even fully grasp at this point.

Letters — Drunk Driver Kills Again

Ted Braxton


Ted Braxton, our good friend, died last night in Hilo after being hit by a drunk driver. He was 22 years old. Ted came to Bellyacres as an 18 year old intern and has been a wonderful energy in our lives ever since. He was studying music at the University and dreamed of returning to SPACE to start his own choir. Ted will be greatly missed by all of us, we loved him. I’ll share more later.

How can we help to stop this madness?
Ted is a huge loss.
We are grieving here, and so is his mother and family on the mainland.

Graham (Ellis)

Ted as a child. Photos courtesy of Mark Hinshaw

(Editor’s note: Following is a statement from Ted’s mother Sarah Braxton.)

To all of Ted’s friends and family – we received the news of Ted’s death this afternoon. His brother Sam is coming home tomorrow and we plan to go to Hilo this week to honor Ted’s life in a memorial service. Don, Grace, Sam and I thank you for your kind thoughts. We know that you meant everything to Ted! We hope to meet many of you when we are in Hawaii. There will be a celebration of Ted’s life in Huntingdon, PA later in June. We will post the specifics here as soon as we know them. Much love, Sarah

Noteworthy Obituaries — Mayor Kenoi’s Statement On Former Mayor Stephen Yamashiro’s Death

“Mayor Yamashiro loved this community, and was a loyal friend and mentor to many. He was always ready with advice and suggestions, sharing generously of his many years of experience as a community leader. He will be missed, and I want to offer my condolences to his wife Della.


Stephen Yamashiro image courtesy of Our Campaign. Yamashiro was Hawaii Island mayor from 1996 to 2000.

Mayor Billy Kenoi

As Hawai‘i County Council chairman and mayor, Mayor Yamashiro led our community through a very difficult transition period. As the last of the plantations closed in the 1990s, the Big Island was searching for new directions, and Mayor Yamashiro helped steer our island community into the future. His support and advocacy of sectors such as diversified agriculture, forestry and geothermal power are still paying dividends for our residents today. He knew where we needed to go, and he led the way. We are grateful for Mayor Yamashiro’s many contributions to our community.”



Noteworthy Obituaries — Aloha, Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen, Big Island Event Guy and an active community volunteer, died suddenly last week.

Tomorrow, Thursday April 26, at 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.,  is Celebration of Life pupu potluck at Carlsmith Beach Park pavilion. This is to be an informal gathering to meet family and share Aloha to Steve.  Lei and loose flowers are welcomed; bring a pupu and/or beverage to share with others.


Y o g a — A Workshop For Max Is April 16; Memorial Contributions Can Be Made To Cambodian Water Well

April 16, 2011

3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Authenticity refers to our ability to stay faithful to our internal world despite the challenges presented by the external world around us. Yoga offers us tools to develop this capacity to be guided by our inner light and love. Please join us for this very special workshop in which we will explore authenticity both on and off the mat in honor of our littlest Monkey teacher, MAX. All proceeds of this workshop will go towards a Cambodian water well in honor of the late Maximilian Kahanu Heintz. Suggested donation for this workshop is $20. Please contact Danielle for more information at (808) 896-7406 or, with specifications for Max’s well, mail your contributions to:

Melinda Clark

PO BOX 527

Kurtistown, HI 96760

Noteworthy Obituaries — Herb Kawainui Kane Has Passed Away

Herb Kawainui Kane image courtesy of the artist's website. Click here to visit.

Herb Kawainui Kane, 82, passed away Tuesday, March 8, 2011, the 36th anniversary of Hokulea’s first voyage.  Kane was an artist, historian, and one of the designers of Hokulea who served as the famed voyaging canoe’s first captain.  Friends such as Billy Richards, one of the crew members of the famed 1976 Hokulea tour to Tahiti, noted in a circulated email to friends that it was appropriate for Kane to choose March 8 for his “final voyage.”

Kane was among the founders of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and much of his artistry centered around Hawaiian history from the voyager’s perspective.  Having been raised on the Big Island — Waipio Valley and Hilo, in particular — along with Wisconsin, Kane’s art was also largely influenced by the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele. Among his five published books was “Pele, Goddess of Hawaii’s Volcanoes” in 1987.  He was selected as a Living Treasure of Hawaii in the ’80s.

“If my work contributes to our comprehension of Hawai’i’s past, that will ultimately become the greatest reward,” Kane said. His family reportedly said that Kane had been battling illness for some time.

(Sources: Hawaii Star Advertiser, KITV,  and Hawaii News Now.

Noteworthy Obituaries — Remembering Walter Steiger’s Contribution To The Hawaiian Islands

"In April of 1955, Dr. Walter R. Steiger of the University of Hawai`i Department of Physics conducted a site survey study near the summit of Haleakala to determine the suitablility of the location for a solar observatory," states the UH Institute for Astronomy website. Nine years later, UH dedicated a Haleakala observatory that was named after Dr. Mees, the leader of photographic emulsions for astronomy and a financial benefactor and supporter of the University's acquisition of the Haleakala High Altitude Observatory Site.  In the photo dated 1963 above, Walter Steiger is depicted wearing shorts and an aloha shirt, standing with Prof. Masaaki Huruhata (L),  Dr. P.V. Kulkarni, Dr. Huruhata’s daughter, Kuniko, and Dr. Franklin Roach.  In the cartoon below, Steiger is pictured speaking at the dedication, with a caption hinting at the controversy the first observatory in the islands sparked in 1964. (Images courtesy of University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy)