MYRON 'PINKY' THOMPSON
A life devoted
to serving others
MYRON "Pinky" Thompson did not need a compass. Pure instinct and love for the human race led him to instill respect, ambition and cultural pride through the Hawaiian community and beyond. After a long battle with cancer, Thompson died on Christmas Day at the age of 77.
As soon as he could earn his bachelor's degree in sociology from a small college in Maine and a master's in social work from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Thompson became committed to helping people. After recovering from serious injuries incurred during the invasion of Normandy, Thompson spent his life trying to improve conditions for fellow Hawaiians -- he was three-fourths Hawaiian -- and the entire community.
As an administrator in the John A. Burns administration, Thompson was a key adviser to the governor on matters of Hawaiian and community needs. He was among those who founded Alu Like in 1975 to obtain federal assistance in job training, health, housing, education and native rights for Hawaiians. In the 1980s, he helped create Papa Ola Lokahi, a statewide health-care system for Hawaiians.
Thompson served with integrity for two decades as a trustee for the Bishop Estate, recognizing early intervention as a necessary strategy for educating children. After his retirement as trustee in 1994, the innovative emphasis on developing parental skills and helping children from birth was discarded by successor trustees who became enveloped in scandal and were driven from office. Current trustees of what has been renamed Kamehameha Schools -- including his son Nainoa -- have since resurrected the program.
Thompson regarded voyaging as a method of developing leadership and cultural appreciation. In 1979 he took the helm of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, retracing the migration patterns used by his ancestors. As navigator of the society's voyaging canoe Hokulea, Nainoa replicated the Polynesian methods of using the sun, stars, winds and currents in successfully traveling to far reaches of the Pacific.
"One of the things I see is the universality of success," Thompson once explained. "Certain processes are involved in being successful that are common to all cultures. They do their homework, then go after it."
Pinky Thompson knew where he was going. Because of his extraordinary life, thousands who came into contact with him -- and consequently many generations of Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians to come -- will find their way.
Ferries would benefit
The issue: Traffic problems and
the merger of airlines renew interest
in water transportation.
A system of ferries that carries people from island to island and from various points on Oahu would be a welcome mode of transportation for Hawaii. The state should develop harbor facilities, expedite regulatory requirements and explore a possible partnership with private enterprise to establish a ferry network. Hawaii's congressional delegation should make it a priority to seek federal funds for such a system.
With the pending merger of Hawaii's interisland airlines likely to increase the cost of flying and commuter traffic in Honolulu growing closer to permanent gridlock, moving people from place to place by water makes sense. Efficient and reasonably priced water transport would ease travel for residents as well as tourists. It would open employment and housing opportunities on the neighbor islands and could offer less expensive cargo options for businesses.
The state last year conducted trial ferry runs from three Leeward Oahu locations to Aloha Tower in downtown Honolulu. A total of about 35,000 people took the ferry with the Iroquois Point departure site, near Ewa Beach, drawing the most riders, averaging 1,100 a week. Leeward and Central Oahu residents were disappointed when the demonstration project ended, even with service limited to two daily round trips.
Although previous commuter ferry businesses have failed, present circumstances may make a difference. Housing growth in Central and Leeward Oahu has added hundreds of vehicles to the island's freeway traffic and likely will worsen because new developments are concentrated on the west side. An interisland service also failed to draw riders but, if fares rise and flight schedules cut with the merged airline, ferry service could become an attractive option.
With faster water craft -- especially vessels that can transport vehicles as well as people, like in Seattle and on Long Island -- a ferry system would make island-to-island travel less taxing. For example, a person could live on Maui and ferry to work in Honolulu. Patients requiring medical services unavailable on Molokai could easily get to Maui for treatment. Big Island produce could be quickly trucked from farm to store without costly loading and unloading.
Of course, there are many obstacles. The state would need to build and upgrade its harbor facilities, routes would have to be established and environmental concerns addressed.
State transportation officials say several companies are interested in starting up ferries, but that talks are preliminary. However, the numerous advantages a ferry system would provide for the public as well as for businesses and for tourism should motivate Hawaii's leaders to find ways to make it a reality.
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