Friday, November 8, 2002


Harris speech-writer
known for kindness

See also: Obituaries

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

At Honolulu Hale, Nick Houtman was like the kid who always brought stray friends home for dinner.

That's because Houtman was always bringing people he met on TheBus into his office so he could help them with their problems, said Carol Costa, city director of customer services.

"Nick was the kindest person I knew," Costa said. "He'd go out of his way to help someone."

Houtman, the incorrigible yet gifted communications officer and speech-writer to Mayor Jeremy Harris, died Wednesday of a viral infection while visiting his parents in Kansas. He was 39.

Costa said many of the best ideas in Harris' State of the City addresses were expressed by Houtman, who worked on and off for the mayor since Harris first came into office in 1994.

"His contributions to the annual State of the City speech were immense because he had great writing abilities," Harris said in a prepared release.

Houtman was also known for his irreverent humor. A news story once quoted Houtman describing the members of the City Council as "the nine boobs."

Houtman began his career with the city in 1991 as an information officer for the Office of Rapid Transit. For a while he was also executive producer of Honolulu Municipal Television.

Houtman was born in Kansas but spent his teenage years and much of his adult life in Windward Oahu.

He is survived by parents Ken and Judy Houtman; sisters Anne, Elaine and Kathy; grandparents Warren and Lois Graham; two nieces; and a nephew.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday in Kansas. Honolulu services are pending.

E-mail to City Desk


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