Tuesday, May 14, 2002


Ray Yuen was an energetic advocate for upgrading Hilo to a 4-year UH campus

Editor’s career
at Tribune-Herald
spanned 4 decades

More obituaries

By Rod Thompson

Ray Yuen, a former editor of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, died Saturday at his home in Hilo. He was 87.

Yuen worked at the newspaper then known as the Hilo Tribune-Herald from 1935 to 1974. He was recognized as a kind man concerned about people.

"He was such a gentleman," said Eugene Tao, himself later an editor at the "Trib."

Yuen's son Chris, planning director for Hawaii County, called his father "a newspaper guy all the way" and "a really sweet person."

Born in Pahala, Yuen eventually moved to Hilo.

As a teenager, he wanted to study agriculture, but tuberculosis kept him out of school for two years, his son said.

When Yuen returned to high school, agriculture was no longer taught there. He worked on the school newspaper, then started with the Tribune-Herald after graduating in 1935.

At the paper, he met and married Alice Sargent, a new reporter from California.

Yuen became news editor for the Tribune-Herald in the early 1950s, then the general editor in 1962-74.

A special concern for him in the 1960s was upgrading Hilo college to a four-year school. Yuen, who had no college degree, wrote editorials supporting the change. Another plan called for a new college in Waimea, but the Hilo upgrade won.

In 1974, Yuen left the Trib-une-Herald to become an assistant in Washington, D.C., for U.S. Sen. Hiram Fong, a Republican.

The newspaper had long had Republican ties but often endorsed Democrats, and the job with Fong was not a particularly partisan move, Yuen's son said.

And Tao remembers the lessons Yuen taught him as a reporter, always to look at the other side of any topic.

In the early 1990s, Yuen was diagnosed with prostate cancer. To bolster his spirits and those of others, he began a feature in the Tribune-Herald presenting inspirational quotes. An example from the Greek poet Pindar says, "The best of healers is good cheer."

Yuen is survived by sons Christopher and Andrew; daughters Mary Lou Kobayashi, Lori Sasaki and Julie Cryan; and 10 grandchildren. Services: 10 a.m. Friday at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Papaikou. Call after 9 a.m.

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