Giugni memorial focuses on his loyalty
Loyalty was the byword last night as friends, colleagues and family remembered Henry Ku'ualoha Giugni, a self-described "simple Hawaiian boy" who was the first person of color to be appointed sergeant-at-arms of the U.S. Senate.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann and former governors John Waihee and Ben Cayetano were among more than 400 people who offered condolences to Giugni's family before the service at Hanahauoli School.
Giugni, 80, a former Hono-lulu police officer and liquor investigator who became an influential insider in national Democratic politics, died Nov. 3 in a Maryland hospital. He went to Washington as executive assistant to Daniel Inouye when he first took office in Congress in 1959. He continued as Inouye's chief of staff until his appointment in 1987 as sergeant-at-arms, and was the senator's confidant for life.
In a program of emotional tributes and hilarious anecdotes, Inouye recalled a serious Giugni, who asked to join Martin Luther King Jr. and carried the Hawaiian flag in the 1965 Selma civil rights march. Giugni's initiatives as head of the 2,000-employee sergeant-at-arms office included the first appointments of African Americans and development of programs to guide blind and deaf visitors in the nation's Capitol.
"I was one of the many young Hawaiians inspired by him to never take a back seat to anybody," said Billy Kenoi, an aide to the Big Island mayor's office and a former Inouye aide. "He told me 'No such thing as no can, only how can.' What you want to accomplish, you got to do it yourself; no one's going to do it for you."
Vinnie Versage said: "I learned the meaning of loyalty and how to live it. He was a tenacious fighter for the senator and for Hawaii."
Circuit Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo* recalled Giugni's gleeful description as sergeant-at-arms: "I'm just a little Hawaiian boy with the authority to arrest the president of the United States."
Hifo said that in her earlier career as a television reporter, she suggested to Giugni that he write a book from his insider perspective. "His answer was 'never.' He recoiled in disgust at the idea of such disloyalty. Above all, Henry was loyal ... to the senator, to Hawaiians, to the Senate, to his friends."
Heather Giugni described her father as a great father, a complex person and a "consummate Democrat." She said: "Dad got away with amazing things. Everyone had a Henry story."
Giugni attended Hanahauoli School and graduated from Iolani School and University of Hawaii. He is survived by his wife, Muriel Roselani; daughters H. Kealoha Giugni, Deborah Roselani McMillan, Heather Haunani Giugni and Gina Pilialoha Giugni-Halbach; 11 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.
The family has established a fund to support Congressional internships for Hawaii students. Contributions may be made to The Henry Ku'ualoha Giugni Memorial Fund, c/o The Hawaii Community Foundation, 1164 Bishop St., Suite 800, Hono-lulu, HI 96813.