Wednesday, May 15, 2002


Alfred Kovner, a k a "Freddie the Clown," did benefits and parades for Cotton Candy's Clown Circus.

‘Freddie the Clown’ persona
brought joy to many

More obituaries

By Pat Gee

When he was 77 years old, Alfred Kovner joined the circus.

He became "Freddie the Clown" in Cotton Candy's Clown Circus, a family clown business, after running a bicycle shop for 38 years.

Kovner, 88, died May 7 of cancer at St. Francis Hospice-West in Ewa Beach.

He maintained his jolly disposition until the night he died in spite of suffering pain, said his daughter, Gwen Teixeira.

He became the darling of all the nurses in the five months he was in hospice, entertaining them with funny songs that he had sung all his life, she said.

"He wasn't a world leader or a famous doctor or a war hero or sports figure ... But he was one of the greatest men who ever lived," Teixeira said. "He did things like work hard to provide for his wife and family, go to church. He helped his kids with their homework and drove his wife to do the grocery shopping. He loved God ... singing, fishing, dogs and John Wayne."

Kovner lost his father, Kuzma Kovner, a Russian immigrant to Hawaii, when he was only 2. His mother, a Spanish immigrant named Soleda Juarez, remarried William Schubert.

As one of 12 children, he sold newspapers and watermelons and worked at the pineapple cannery. Later he worked at Honolulu Iron Works as a messenger, clerk and salesman.

Kovner worked at his brother's shop, Schubert's Cyclery, as a mechanic's helper, foreman and partner.

He founded the Piston Ring Co. and opened Economy Cyclery in 1958 in Honolulu. In 1968, he moved the shop to Kailua, where it operated until 1995.

His wife of 67 years, Margaret, worked with him and was the "straight man" to his comic persona, Teixeira said.

When he was 16, Kovner won an around-the-island bike championship and continued to ride until he was in his 60s. He ran bicycle races for the Mid-Pacific Wheelman's Club and was the district referee for the American Motorcycle Association from 1944 to 1958, Teixeira said.

He was a Boy Scoutmaster from age 17 to 21 and, later, an usher at St. Patrick's Church.

Kovner became "Freddie the Clown," doing benefits and parades, after Teixeira formed the Cotton Candy's Clown Circus and the Paradise Clown Club in 1989.

He wanted to be with his six children, who all became clowns after Teixeira became "Cotton Candy."

He always joined them in singing, dancing, and doing skits at home, so it was natural that he wanted to clown around with them, too, Teixeira said.

Kovner is also survived by daughter Judy Embry; brothers James Schubert of Lancaster, Calif., Evan Schubert of Paso Robles, Calif., Gus Schubert of Concord, Calif., and Michael Schubert of Surprise, Ariz.; 13 grandchildren; and 27 great-grandchildren.

Paradise Club members dressed as clowns will attend the service from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Monday at Hawaiian Memorial Park, Teixeira said.

Burial services will be held from 8:45 to 10:45 a.m. Tuesday at Diamond Head Memorial Park.

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