Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Alice Chang Kamaka

Kamaka dies at 94

She was called the spirit of
Kalaupapa and never gave up

More obituaries

By Mary Adamski


The nurses at Kalaupapa made a concerted effort to get Alice Chang Kamaka into a movie filmed there two years ago.

The staff of the state Hansen's disease hospital in the Molokai community knew the aged and frail woman had a historical link to the subject, Father Damien DeVeuster.

"In the hospital scene, they had a full shot of her. That was all I wanted to see," said nurse's aide Frances Padeken. "She was the spirit of this place. She never gave up."

Kamaka, 94, died Monday in Hale Mohalu in Honolulu.

Diagnosed with leprosy as a teen-ager, Kamaka was one of thousands of island residents who was sent to the remote peninsula in an effort to curb the spread of the disease.

She had lived at Kalaupapa since 1919, longer than anyone else now alive. She and other patients have lived there by choice since the quarantine was lifted in the 1960s.

When Kamaka arrived, Brother Joseph Dutton was still caring for patients. Dutton had worked with Father Damien, known around the world for his 16 years of service at the settlement. The priest, who contracted the disease and died in 1889, was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1995.

"She was very witty, she says what she wants to say," said Kalaupapa head nurse Fe Austria-Schwind. "She was happy-go-lucky, nothing bothers her."

Kamaka, married five times, bore the name of her latest spouse, who died in the 1950s.

She was a retired state worker, having served as a hospital orderly for several years.

"She just loved life, she lived it her way," Padeken said. "She was ahead of her time. From the stories, she was hell on wheels, my kind of lady."

Kamaka's niece, Gladys Lopes of Oahu, said, "She liked to sing, liked to dance, liked to drink beer. She would sing while my mother played ukulele. She was really kolohe (a rascal)."

She outlived 12 siblings. More than 30 years ago, she bought a cemetery plot and paid for her own funeral arrangements, Lopes said.

Services will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hawaiian Memorial Park Mortuary.

The Belgian movie in which she appeared as an extra, "Molokai, the Story of Father Damien," is currently being shown on Molokai and is slated to run on other islands.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin