Wednesday, October 17, 2001
Augie Dias carried a starter's pistol and a big, warm smile.
Well-known sportsman dies at 81
He was a longtime official, organizer and
volunteer for many high school and youth sports
AUGIE DIAS / 1920-2001
SEE ALSO: OBITUARIES
By Cindy Luis
The 81-year-old passed away yesterday morning at the Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center, leaving a huge void in the youth athletic community. He had been hospitalized for two months.
Dias was a master-level starter, the dean of Hawaii track and field officials and easily among the most well-known and beloved man in sports in the state.
"He was so lovable," said Michael Ho, another longtime state track and field official. "You couldn't go anywhere with Augie without someone coming up and talking to him, from old friends to athletes who remembered him as an official and sportsman.
"He seemed to be able to remember everything and everyone from every meet or game he went to."
And there were a lot of events. From cross country to Pop Warner football, from biddy boxing to youth basketball.
But track and field was the first love of Dias, a member of the first graduating class from Farrington High School. He ran track and played football and basketball for the Governors.
Dias officiated at all but one state championship meet since the inaugural competition in 1959.
He missed last spring's championship on Maui to stay on Oahu to run a youth track meet.
"He told me he was sorry he couldn't go but, without him, they would have had to cancel the meet," said Keith Amemiya, executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association.
Despite completely losing his vision in one eye eight years ago, Dias continued his volunteer work.
"You'd think that losing his sight suddenly and irreversibly would have sent him into a state of depression," Ho added. "But that wouldn't have been Augie. Not too proud to accept help when he had given it so willingly over the years, he asked for rides or took the bus.
"The fullness of his life and the ease with which he handled his ability guaranteed that it would not be a defining part of his life."
Dias was the track commissioner for the Oahu Interscholastic Association and chief starter for the Interscholastic League of Honolulu for over three decades.
"He was so full of aloha,"' said Jeff Meister, ILH track coordinator and assistant athletic director at Punahou School. "He was also so giving, always there for the kids. Everyone enjoyed being around him. If there was a track meet to be found, he was there."
Dias received a special service award in 1986 from the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association.
Also, Radford High School gives a $1,000 college scholarship in his name each year.
It was an appropriate honor for Dias, who lived across the street from Radford and became intimately involved with Rams' athletics.
When close friend and legendary football coach John Velasco passed away, current Radford principal Bobby Stevens took over the football team.
And Dias took care of Stevens.
"We used to joke that Augie coached me," Stevens said. "When John died, Augie came to football camp, made sure the kids had sandwiches. He took care of me to make sure I was all right.
"He could see the school from his house and if the alarm went off at night, he had his own key and would come over to check it out. I couldn't tell you how long he was with the school. When I came in 1970, he was already here."
Many generations of Radford athletes and students called him "Grandpa." He is survived by wife Annie, a high school classmate, sons Austin and Keith, and daughters Patsy Balmores, Kathy Ah Sam and Stella Stewart, and 12 grandchildren and 17 greatgrandchildren.
Dias was presented a lifetime achievement award by the Honolulu City Council for his work as a community volunteer.
He was a longtime parishioner of St. Philomena Church in Salt Lake. Services are pending.