DOUG BOSWELL / 1918-2005
Veteran isle journalist chronicled 1946 tsunami
When Doug Boswell moved to Hawaii in 1946, he did not intend to stay long.
He had taken a job as a reporter with the Hawaii Tribune-Herald only to be closer to Asia, where he had dreams of becoming a correspondent.
But on his first night in Hilo, he stepped out onto his hotel lanai and heard raindrops falling on big, fat leaves. It did not rain like that in Ohio, where he had been born and raised.
"From that moment on," said his daughter, Kathleen, "he loved it. He just took to it immediately."
Boswell, who went on to become the Star-Bulletin's longtime Capitol reporter and gained wide respect for his in-depth political stories, died Monday at his home. He was 86.
"He was a great storyteller," said his daughter, "and he was an incredible observer, watching everything."
Two months after Boswell arrived on the Big Island, the tsunami of 1946 hit Hilo, and 122 people were killed.
From his home, Boswell watched the waves come in. And once the water receded, he drove into town to help cover the aftermath.
In 1949, Boswell moved with his wife, who had come from Ohio, and son to Honolulu. He started as a general assignment reporter at the Star-Bulletin but gradually moved his way up to the Capitol bureau and covered Hawaii politics from the mid-1960s to about 1975.
He then became a copy editor and retired in 1988, at 70 years old.
While at the Capitol, said former state and U.S. Rep. Pat Saiki, Boswell was well known among politicians for his analytical writing style and his ability to tackle complex issues for readers.
"He was very respected," Saiki said. "He was a guru of the political scene, and people turned to him for information and guidance. He wrote stories like they happened, but he gave a lot of insight."
Boswell also had a deep appreciation for native Hawaiian culture, which stems from his years in Hilo.
When he was on the Big Island, he once went with the then-mayor to a remote fishing village. The mayor spoke to a group of native Hawaiians in Hawaiian and, after a while, Boswell noticed the residents had tears in their eyes. Boswell asked the group what the mayor had said.
And, according to Boswell's daughter, a man told him that it had not been what the mayor was saying, but how he was saying it.
"That moved him a lot," Kathleen Boswell said. It was a lesson, she added, that stuck with him throughout his career.
Boswell is survived by daughter Kathleen, son Michael and three grandchildren. There will be no services.