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Saturday, September 16, 2000

Historian Kanahele,
69, leaves legacy
in Waikiki


By Pat Omandam

Promotion of Hawaiian cultural values or "Hawaiianess" at Waikiki hotels and other tourist destinations statewide has a common thread, in that noted consultant Dr. George Hueu Sanford Kanahele probably had a hand in it.

"If you look behind anything that's basically in motion in the hospitality industry, he's woven into the fabric of it," said Maile Meyer, a director at the Native Hawaiian Tourism and Hospitality Association.

"His legacy is everywhere, absolutely everywhere in Waikiki. He was just so enthusiastic about the place up until the last minute," she said.

Kanahele, 69, died Thursday night on Guam after suffering a heart attack, said his son, George Kanahele Jr.

Kanahele, a historian who published several books and papers on Hawaiian values, Waikiki and Queen Emma, was on Guam sharing his work with the Chamorro people.

He was also the editor of "Hawaiian Music and Musicians," a 1979 publication that is being updated.

George Kanahele Jr. said his father was a workaholic, always immersed in projects. He said time was of the essence because there was a long list of things his father wanted to do. "He was fond about all the islands, but Waikiki was one of his projects that he was consumed with," his son said.

"I think he wanted to bring some aloha back to the islands, and try to make Waikiki more of where you could feel that old Hawaii."

Still, he always made time for father-son activities.

"We went skydiving together last week," George Jr. said. "We jumped out of a plane together at 12,000 feet. That was a nice father-and-son little outing we had."

Kanahele's brother, Albert, said the family of 14 siblings grew up in Laie and Kaneohe. Kanahele graduated from Kamehameha Schools before earning a bachelor's degree at Brigham Young University in Provo and a doctorate in political science from Cornell University.

George Kanahele worked in the private and public sector in Hawaii before he focused on his consulting business.

Albert Kanahele said his brother was a serious scholar who didn't take himself seriously and had a unique sense of humor. "He was kolohe in a good way," he said.

Lori Sablas, vice president and director of po'okela or cultural programs at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, said the hotel's entire cultural program that began in 1986 is based on Kanahele's work.

Kanahele was one of the founders of the Native Hawaiian Tourism and Hospitality Association in 1997, and was an honorary director. He was president of the WAIAHA Foundation, a nonprofit group created to promote traditional Hawaiian values in the hospitality industry.

Kanahele recently served as a cultural adviser to writers of "Baywatch Hawaii."

Services are being arranged by Borthwick Mortuary and will be held on Oahu. His survivors include wife, Jean; son, George Jr.; daughters Kauana Jackson and Joanna Kanahele; brother Albert; and four grandchildren.

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