Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Many gathered yesterday at Moe Keale's memorial service at Kawaiahao Church. Keale, a respected entertainer, died April 15.

Uncle Moe Keale
a favored son of Hawaii

Hundreds gather to pay their
last respects to the Waikiki
legend who touched them

Reviews / sound clips

By John Berger

Moe Keale touched Hawaii and the world in many ways -- as a beach boy, musician, recording artist, actor, practitioner of traditional Hawaiian healing and humanitarian -- and among the hundreds of people who filled Kawaiahao Church to pay respects last night were those who had known him in all those roles.

Jon de Mello of the Mountain Apple Co. had produced his first and arguably greatest solo album, "South Sea Island Magic." Michael Kelly, Dawn Gohara and Rhoda Ann Kihikihi represented Hawaiian Radio KCCN. Jim Linkner, who had won a Hoku Award for his work engineering Keale's second solo album, was also there. So was Kihei DeSilva, his song-writing partner when he recorded his third solo album, "Imagine," in 1996, and Keith Haugen, a friend from his days as a member of the Sons of Hawaii.

Paying their respects as well were other members of the Hawaiian music community who had worked with him or been inspired by him over the past 40 years: Imaikalani Young, Robert Cazimero, Ernie Cruz Jr., Bobby Moderow, Brittney Anelaikalani Jennings and Kapena DeLima.

Jan Brenner was there with talent agent Chriss Heyd, who booked many of Keale's long-running gigs in Waikiki. So was Dick Rodby of Kemo'o Farms, Palani Vaughan and Louis "Moon" Kauakahi of the Makaha Sons.

The line of people waiting to personally pay their respects to Moe, his wife, Carol, and son, Nalani, was so long that a number of people were told that they would have to wait until the services were over.

However, everyone received a single kukui nut as a memento.

Margaret Doversola, who knew him as an actor on "Hawaii Five-O" and "Magnum, P.I.," described Keale as "someone who shared his spirit with all of us." Ka'uhane Lee, speaking on behalf of those who knew him as a healer, combined the metaphors of Polynesian navigation and healing in remembering him as "the greatest navigator and the greatest healer."

"There was always laughter. That's what I recall about Moe," Dennis Kamakahi said as he shared several stories of their days together in the Sons of Hawaii.

Sam Po'omaihealani, a friend from Keale's days on the beach as a boy (years before he became a Waikiki beach boy), recalled youthful stunts and high jinks, and pondered the process by which a boy named Wilfred grew into the teenager known as "Animal" -- and how "Animal" eventually became "Uncle Moe Keale."

Po'omaihealani spoke of dropping by the Sheraton-Waikiki to visit Keale on April 14. Keale had played his favorite song without being asked, and they had talked a bit afterward, catching up on old times.

Less than 24 hours later, Moe Keale died.

"He gave me his time (and) his music," Po'omaihealani said. "That was his gift: his love of life, his love of family, his love of music. Moe, we love you, too."

There will be a musical celebration of Keale's life starting at noon Saturday at the Hula Mount at Kuhio Beach. A brief ceremony will take place on the beach at 6 p.m., followed by a scattering of the ashes at sea.


Keale reviews / sound clips:

Live from the Sheraton (Feb. 11, 2000)
South Sea Island Magic (Sept. 10, 1999)

E-mail to City Desk


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