Friday, September 5, 2003

WALTER LAPPERT / 1921-2003

‘The Hanapepe
Ice Cream Man’
sweetened Hawaii

LIHUE >> Private family services were conducted Wednesday night for Walter Lappert, whose bearded face on thousands of advertisements and his Lappert's Ice Cream company logo made him synonymous with premium ice cream in Hawaii.

Walter Lappert: His Kauai-based business now has 19 stores in Hawaii and the Northwest

Lappert died Monday at his home in Poipu at the age of 82. A public memorial service is planned, but no date has been set.

Mary Pratt, Lappert's second wife, who remained his business partner after their divorce in 1991 and who has run the company in recent months, said the Lappert name will remain on the company, and its founder's likeness will stay on the logo.

Lappert was born in 1921, grew up in Prague, Czech Republic, and was fluent in eight languages, Pratt said. At 17 he joined the French army and was fortunate to find space on a troop ship that was evacuating soldiers just ahead of the German Army.

Lappert spent many years in Venezuela where he developed a rum business. He later ran restaurants in San Francisco and Sausalito, Calif.

Pratt said they first visited Kauai in 1972 but did not move there and start the ice cream and coffee business until 1983. "He wanted a reason to come back, and he realized there was no premium ice cream being made in Hawaii," Pratt said. "Now we are the ice cream company for all of Hawaii."

There are 19 Lappert stores throughout Hawaii and the northwestern United States.

Although Lappert billed himself as "the Hanapepe Ice Cream Man," Pratt said the choice of Hanapepe had nothing to do with ice cream. "It was the cheapest place we could find."

In recent years, as he battled diabetes, Lappert spent considerable time "hanging out at the Koloa store where he liked talking story with the tourists and all the Kauai cops who stopped there," Pratt said.

Lappert is survived by three sons -- Michael, of California; Patrick, of Nebraska; and Brendan, of Michigan -- a daughter, Julie Lucas, of Lawai, Kauai; and 13 grandchildren.


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