Noteworthy Obituaries — Jean Allen Curtis, A Friend Of The Zoo To Be Remembered

By Hugh Clark

The Big Island has lost an extraordinary volunteer — a dedicated science teacher and an unpaid leader of Friends of the (Panaewa) Zoo with the death earlier this month of Jean Allen Curtis in Honolulu.

Jean was the wife of retired UH physicist George Curtis, 62,  a volunteer adviser with Hawaii County Civil Defense and himself a super volunteer at Science Fairs and other events to stimulate learning by Big Island kids. They lived quietly in Honomu after coming here from Honolulu where she had worked at Chaminade and Hawaii Pacific Colleges and as a science teacher at Maryknoll High School.

During semi-retirement she taught at Hawaii Community College and at University of Hawaii-Hilo, specializing in marine science.

She took over leadership of the Zoo Friends some years ago after serving as a docent and with her innate love of animals carried out many programs the county’s staff could not or could not afford to do for more than 18 years. Read more

Hugh-isms — Two Fairly Big Things: John Mahelona’s Fatal Car Crash And Closed Union-State Arbitration Hearing

By Hugh Clark

Jesse Mahelona

Jesse Mahelona

Jesse Mahelona (per national news) died in Kona in a crash last night. He was, I believe, Kona’s first National Football League (NFL) player. The former University of Tennessee and Titans defensive tackle is survived by his wife, Brandi, who is pregnant with their second child.  Advertiser reports a corresponding accident but says victim unknown. Give me a break, the world knows Jesse is dead and our local cops do not!

How come no commentary on the CLOSED Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) union-state arbitration hearings? We might otherwise have found out who the rotten apples really are. 

(40-year newspaper veteran Hugh Clark is a fellow Big Island Press Club member, friend and mentor to the Big Island Chronicle.)

Noteworthy Obituaries — Liberal Lion Sen. Edward Kennedy Dies

Courtesy of The Ambassadors Magazine

Edward “Ted” Kennedy, the renowned democratic U.S. senator said to be one of the most influential politicians in U.S. history, has lost his 15-month battle with brain tumor.  The 77-year-old died late Tuesday at his home in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod, Mass.

President Barack Obama is in Massachusetts vacationing with his family on Martha’s Vineyard, across the bay from Hyannis Port. Having once referred to Kennedy as the “lion of the Senate,” the president said he was “heartbroken” to hear news of the senator’s death, noting “an important chapter in our history has come to an end.” Kennedy served 46 years in the U.S. Senate, alongside 10 presidents, one of them being his brother. He actually took the senate seat his brother John left vacant to run for president. 

John F. Kennedy (L), Robert Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy (Image Courtesy of Wikipedia)

John F. Kennedy (L), Robert Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy (Image Courtesy of Wikipedia)

He was the youngest of nine children in the famed family that included President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963 and New York Sen. Robert Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968, just after winning the California presidential primary. He was said to be the only Kennedy son to live past 46. His memoir, “True Compass,” is slated to be published this fall.  His death comes two weeks after the death of his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

Survivors include his daughter, Kara Kennedy Allen; two sons, Edward Jr. and Patrick; and two stepchildren, Caroline and Curran Raclin.

Hugh-isms — RIP Sonny Kaniho

 © Ian Lind, Kaaawa, Hawaii

Sonny Kaniho © Ian Lind, Kaaawa, Hawaii


By Hugh Clark

Sonny Kaniho in the cowboy hat © Ian Lind, Kaaawa, Hawaii

Sonny Kaniho, in the cowboy hat, claiming homestead land in Waimea on May 18, 1974. © Ian Lind, Kaaawa, Hawaii

Forgotten or overlooked. Waimea’s Sonny Kaniho, known to police there as the “nicest protester” has died.

Sonny, a retired Pearl Harbor pipefitter, returned to his South Kohala home to seek justice for native Hawaiians after mulling over the fact his father was about to die and never received a Hawaiian homesteads pastoral lease awarded decades before.

It was a sort of class action movement on behalf of what he described as “dying Hawaiians.”

Sonny often took matters into his own hands, staging sit ins and occupations of Hawaiian land provided to large leaseholders. Once he set some cows loose and then called the cops and media to reveal his novel protest.

He once disrupted a lease auction and was arrested. He was the friendliest defendant he ever booked, a seasoned Waimea officer said afterward.

Sonny Kaniho in the cowboy hat on the left © Ian Lind, Kaaawa, Hawaii

According to Ian Lind’s blog, possibly the best on Oahu, Sonny died of  Alzheimer’s. The grand niece  (Monique Batchelder) who was Ian’s source did not state many details.

When the Hawaiian movement is eventually measured and reflected on in a historical book yet to be written, a chapter will have to go to Sonny who epitomized the old phrase “peaceful protester.”

In his differed way, he helped pave a break up of sweetheart leases and got Hawaiians placed onto their own land, not figuratively as his father had experienced reality.

(40-year newspaper veteran Hugh Clark is a fellow Big Island Press Club member, friend and mentor to the Big Island Chronicle.)

***Commentary*** RIP, Walter Cronkite; A Moment Of Reflection On Journalism And News Reporting

Credit: The Moderate Voice

“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story,” that’s one of the many famous quotes uttered by the “trusted man in America.” Walter Cronkite kept a nation calm through war, assassinations, presidential scandals, an impeachment, the Moon Landing, the release of American hostages during the Iranian Revolution, among other significant events in history during his 31-year career with CBS.

Columbia University Journalism Professor Todd Gitlin, who is also a sociologist, said it best:  “He belongs to a time when there were three networks, three oil companies, three brands of bread. Cronkite mastered enunciation, training himself to speak at a rate of 124 words per minute so his viewers could understand him. (On average, we speak at between 165 and 200 words per minute.) He remained steady while the message he gave was “that things are falling apart.” Truly, he was the one of those journalists that shaped the medium we know today as broadcast news. 

The buzz in print, TV, and cyberspace is that journalism has not and won’t ever be the same without him. Read more

World News — Iconic Anchorman Walter Cronkite Is Dead At 92


AP Photo

AP Photo

And that’s the way it is.

He informed us of the news about Civil rights, the Battle of the Bulge, the John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations, Vietnam, the Apollo 11 moon landing, Watergate, and now we report that the “most trusted man of America” is dead at 92.

Born Walter Leland Cronkite Jr. in St. Joseph, Missouri on Nov. 4, 1916, he was a household name as the anchorman for the CBS Evening News.  He was recruited to CBS by Edward R. Murrow, starting out as an anchor for CBS affiliate WTOP-TV in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, he had been a United Press International  (UPI) correspondent covering World War II and the Nuremberg war crimes trial.  After more than 30 years with CBS, Cronkite went on to write a syndicated opinion column for Kings Feature Syndicate and contributed to the Huffington Post in 2005 and 2006.

“He was the voice of truth, the voice of reliability,” Columbia University journalism professor Todd Gitlin told The Washington Post.  “He belongs to a time when there were three networks, three oil companies, three brands of bread.”

Cronkite died with his family in New York, having suffered from cerebrovascular disease. He reportedly will be buried in Kansas City, Mo., alongside his wife Besty, who died in 2005.

Noteworthy Obituaries — RIP Freddy Yokoyama

By Don O’Reilly

We were saddened earlier this month to hear of the passing of fellow Hilo businessman Freddy

Freddy Yokoyama

Freddy Yokoyama

Yokoyama.  He was just 61.  Despite his premature departure, Freddy led a full and active life.  Some 30 years ago, after successfully establishing and operating The Kamuela Deli, he came home to Hilo and, with is family, opened the Manono Mini Mart in an old wooden building on the corner of Manono and Piilani Streets, across from the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.  

Due to the tireless work of the entire family, the endeavor was a great success.  People loved, and still do, the fresh, made-to-order deli sandwiches offered way before anything else like it in Hilo.  After just a few years, the old store was replaced with a new combination restaurant, deli, and mini mart.  Today more than thirty people are employed there, many of them for years now. 

Freddy’s place just seems empty without him.  What I’ll remember the most about Freddy is the inspiration of his upbeat attitude, and his easy, genuine smile.  With such Aloha, it is easy to understand how he was admired and respected by so many — family, friends, employees, and customers.

Hugh-isms — Rest In Peace, Tom Gill; ‘Who The Hell Is (Ben)?’; Musings About The Lack Of Appreciation For History

(40-year newspaper veteran Hugh Clark is a fellow Big Island Press Club member, friend and mentor to the Big Island Chronicle editor.)  

Stunned, amazed, taken back. All explains my reaction to the media inaction to death of Tom Gill late Wednesday morning, June 3, 2009, on Oahu.
Tom Gill

Tom Gill

He was the opposition leader when I arrived in 1966 and was curiously effective, despite his acid tongue. He shaped, environmental policy for last four plus decades. Trib gave him a few grafs on A-3 Thursday. I would guess its management had no idea he existed. 
His sons are major figures in contemporary Hawaii. Tony had a notable legal stop here in Hilo and daughter Andrea ( FNA Beck)  has been a real factor in timber management-development, local dance and a host of other matters during her long Hilo residency.
I cannot believe such a significant figure should be almost ignored.
Those who said The Advertiser lost much of its institutional memory by recent buyouts and furloughs were partially right, but Gordon Pang (ex BI reporter and an early day predecessor to West Hawaii Today Hilo Bureau) did a fine job in his page 1 piece Thursday. Hawaii is just 50 years old as a state and we forget our origins in statehood. Read more

Noteworthy Obituaries/Hugh-isms — Island Community Loses Walter Yamaguchi and Chuck Schuster


(40-year newspaper veteran Hugh Clark is a fellow Big Island Press Club member, friend and mentor to the Big Island Chronicle editor.)

Two VIP deaths have so far gone unnoticed by our uncaring, no-memory media that remain in biz:

One is Walter Yamaguchi, age 100 plus, who died over the weekend. He was the wonderful owner of former Kalapana Drive-In, who stared Pele in the face repeatedly before she won.  He was an owner of the old school, who once made his wife carry back in their store’s cash register after she fled with the money while he stayed behind cleaning up for when the store reopened. A grand little guy who was Puna all the way, born in Mountain View as I recall. 

The other loss is Chuck Schuster, of Hilo, age 90 something, who died recently.  He was the state highways chief on the Big Island when I got here, and he was responsible for the Akoni Pule Highway that tied together North and South Kohala along the coastal route, which saved North Kohala because folks there could drive to hotel jobs after sugar failed in early 1970s.  Schuster was sometimes brash and always independent. He was not a typical bureaucrat and was most accessible to news folks. He was the one who told me his next great project would be the Waimea Bypass. That was in the early 1970s. And it could and should have been.  I guess I am between stunned and not too surprised at such reporting omissions. 

Noteworthy Obituaries — “Paul Harvey… Good Day”; 90-Year-Old Radio Personality Dies On Feb. 28

 The most-listened-to radio personality in America, Paul Harvey died on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009.  He was 90. 

Paul Harvey, who worked for ABC Radio Networks, had an estimated 22 million listeners per week.

“I am fiercely loyal to those willing to put their money where my mouth is” was among the many clever expressions he was famous for, along with dramatic pauses and folksiness.  An Oklahoma native, he landed his first job as a journalist as a newscaster for KOMA in Oklahoma City in the 1930s.  He had worked his way into that position, having been a station manager in Salina, Kansas; an announcer and program director for KVOO while attending the University of Tulsa; and cleaning the studio and reading commercial and news at KVOO while in high school in Tulsa. He moved to Hawaii in 1940 to cover the United States Navy.  Three years later he enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served for three months.  In June 1944 he started with WENR, an ABC affiliate in Chicago.  He continued on with ABC up until his death, having signed a 10-year $100 million contract with ABC Radio Networks in late 2000.  His death was preceded by his wife Lynne’s (“Angel” he referred to her) in 2007.  they had met when Paul Harvey worked at KXOK in St. Louis as  roving reporter and director of special events.  Paul Harvey is survived by his son, Paul Aurandt, Jr., who goes by Paul Harvey, Jr., and who said of his father’s death: “millions have lost a friend.”

(Sources: Wikipedia and

On the web:

Hawaii News — ‘Walter Cronkite Of Hawaii,’ Bob Sevey Dies Of Lung Cancer


Photo Courtesy of Leslie Wilcox Blogs

Photo Courtesy of Leslie Wilcox          (Click Here To Read Her September 2008 Blog Entry On Bob Sevey)

Retired Hawaii Television Anchorman Bob Sevey, 81, said to be the “Walter Cronkite of Hawaii,” died of complications associated with lung cancer in Olympia, Wash., Friday.  

Sevey moved to Hawaii in 1954 to work as a production manager for KULA-TV, which is now KITV.  He later went on to become a news director and anchor for KITV and then KGMB, before retiring in 1986 to Washington State.   Read more

***Commentary***In Memory Of George Martin

Blame it on my youth.  Eighty-four-year-old George Martin, of Hilo, a Big Island union leader who in the late 1960s helped expand the University of Hawaii-Hilo into a four-year program died at a private care home on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009, and I was among the news people who missed that story.  I regret the error.  Mahalo to Hugh Clark for pointing this out to me.  Consider my mention of George Martin’s death here as the official launch of a new category entitled, “noteworthy obituaries.”

George Martin is survived by his wife, Mary Dorothy Martin, of Hilo; one son, Tom Martin, of Waimea; and daughter, Shirley Martin Breon, of San Carlos, Calif., Loretta Matsumoto, of Hilo, and Susan Baker, of Burlingame, Calif.; brother-in-law Everet Curtis, of Oxnard, Calif.; sister-in-law Martha Martin, of Kona; 10 grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. 

Mahalo to Hilo attorney Curtis Narimatsu for the following eulogy:

(Edited 1/21) “Our greatest modern-day Luso/Portuguese George Martin 1924-2009 modeled his fledgling ILWU after Emmons’ Unity of Command, becoming district chief the same year the Joint Chiefs of Staff were ordained.  Martin handpicked Yoshito Takamine to run for Terr. House from Honoka`a/Hamakua.  Martin went on to reach the highest office in the ILWU for a plantation boy, Int. VP under longshoreman Harry Bridges. Bridges made clear that only a longshoreman would succeed Bridges, so Martin retired after a decade as Int. VP & returned home to Waipunalei. George Martin leveled the playing field in Hawai`i, busting the haole elite/immigrant commoner hegemony.  At its peak, the ILWU under Martin’s leadership determined winning lawmakers.  Jack Suwa was a garage mechanic but went on to be the wikipedia of finance as House money czar.  So did Maui’s Mamoru Yamasaki as Senate Ways/Means head.  Martin’s ILWU endorsed whoever got the most money to fulfill ILWU platforms, incl. pre-Statehood GOP powerhouses Joe Farrington/Jimmy Kealoha.  Only Yasuki Arakaki defied Martin & stayed a diehard Democrat till the end.  Which is why Scrub Tanaka got along well w/Yasuki, but butted heads vs. mercurial/unpredictable Yoshito.  Scrub/Yoshito from Honoka`a — turf jealousy/war.  George Martin stayed out of Scrub’s way, inasmuch Martin was diehard backer of Scrub’s godfather Jack Burns.  Gerald De Mello keeps boasting about namesake/no relative Eddie De Mello.  Eddie a pain in the ass who caused more harm than good to the ILWU.  Local businessmen couldn’t stand obnoxious/faladoo talking head Eddie De Mello.  But Martin was respected by us all.  And though Martin was ambassadorial in temperament [unlike ill-willed Eddie De Mello/Yasuki Arakaki], Martin had a steely-cold resolve that was deeply revered among both aristocrats/common people.  When Steamy Chow escorted Uncle Hiram Fong to Pepe`ekeo union folks for pep talk, stout-heart Martin, all 5’6″ of him, stood up to 6’2” Steamy, eyeball to nipples, & chastened Steamy, “No cops allowed!!”  To which Steamy exuded, “George, Uncle Hiram my mother’s baby brother– Uncle Hiram brought me along as his driver!!”   George immediately backed off from Steamy’s chest & told Steamy, “A, bruddah, I sorry, I taut you waz hea fo make trouble.  I sorry, bruddah.  Come, come, we go eat & talk story!!”   And never again did George disrespect Steamy.   Love, –Curt”