Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, June 17, 1999

H A W A I I _ S P O R T S

Roy Chong
was a pioneer in

The OIA's commissioner
of officials, who served the league
for more than three decades,
died yesterday at 81

By Pat Bigold


Roy K.P. Chong, the no-nonsense commissioner of Oahu Interscholastic Association officials for more than three decades, died yesterday at the Kuakini Medical Center. He was 81.

Chong's death came after a series of strokes, the first of which came in December.

Chong graduated from Iolani in 1937 after playing halfback for two seasons on the varsity football team. He began his passion for enforcing the football rule book 21 years later when he volunteered to be an Interscholastic League of Honolulu referee.

In 1967, the OIA executive secretary, George Akahane, appointed Chong to head up the large public school league's officials' association. There was never again any question as to who was in charge of interpreting OIA gridiron rules.

"He demanded perfection in officiating," said Jim Beavers, who spent 27 years working under Chong and succeeds him as commissioner.

Elroy Chong, a physical therapist and former Rainbow quarterback who coached at Farrington and Iolani, described his father as a firm but fair man.

"You knew where he stood," said Elroy. "He meant so much to us because of his strength and the values he left us."

Chong's other son, Armand, is also a former football standout. He is a dentist and works as an assistant football coach at Iolani.

"My father was the backbone of our family," he said, "and he told us always to do our best at whatever we do. I admired him so much."

Asked why his father insisted upon working until the end, he heaved a sigh of admiration.

"He loved it. I know my mom would ask him if he shouldn't give it up, but my dad wasn't the type of man to quit."

'It will feel different now that

Roy is gone, but the key will be

to maintain the quality. That's

the legacy we will have to

live up to.'

Jim Beavers


Armand said he marveled at his father's boundless drive, even in his final years.

"He would help me and my brother with our businesses," he said.

Chong played in the 1930s for the legendary founder of Iolani athletics, Father Kenneth Bray.

"He carried on the principles that Father Bray taught him," said Armand.

Both Elroy and Armand excelled in high school and college football.

Beavers said Chong made it clear throughout his tenure that he never wanted the integrity of his officials called into question.

"He wouldn't stand any kind of gambling, not even betting for a cup of coffee," said Beavers. "You'd be suspended if he caught you.

"Another point he made to us was that you never communicate anything about a team to somebody else. If somebody said, "How strong are they?' You say nothing. You always hear accusations about games being fixed, but Roy was fiercely committed to making sure that no one could ever accuse one of his officials of being involved."

Beavers said that while Chong was always ready to scold an official for a sloppy call, he also stood behind his officials.

"He never stood for anybody trying to blackball an official," said Beavers. "If someone said, 'I don't want that guy at our game,' Roy would never back down. He was behind his guys all the way."

But Beavers said there were stipulations to his support.

"You didn't lie, you didn't try to shape the truth, and if you screwed up, you had to tell him early on. We had to call him at midnight if something went wrong at a rural field. If we didn't, he'd call us."

Beavers said Chong even wanted to know about injuries.

"I think that sensitivity could be traced to the fact that he had two boys who played the game" said Beavers.

He also said that Chong had no tolerance for disrespect on the part of coaches or officials during games.

"If you were ever sworn at, and he heard it and you didn't throw a flag, you were in big trouble," said Beavers.

Chong developed a system for training officials and also instituted rules clinics. Two months prior to the start of each season, he would have bi-weekly review sessions so that officials could become thoroughly familiar with the rule book and any amendments to it.

During the season, he would sit down every Monday to critique officials' performances.

Beavers chuckles when he remembers how demanding and meticulous Chong was about officiating.

"I was on the receiving end of his scoldings on a number of occasions in the early days," he said.

"It will feel different now that Roy is gone, but the key will be to maintain the quality. That's the legacy we will have to live up to."

Chong is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Akana, daughter, Arlene Pua Nani Lum Lee, his two sons, seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

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