ERNEST ALBRECHT / 1916-2006
Polio survivor helped develop isle tourism as ‘Mr. Pan Am’
Ernest Albrecht put his career on hold to fight a life-threatening polio affliction at the age of 35.
He beat the disease and went on to help build Hawaii's tourism industry for 22 years as the top Pan American World Airways sales executive in Hawaii.
In 1973, Mayor Frank Fasi hired him as his personal representative and "official greeter for the city of Honolulu." As greeter he met VIPs arriving in Hawaii.
"He could be with a top, top dignitary, and it was like his best friend," said his youngest daughter, Linda Goeas.
Albrecht died Thursday in Honolulu after fighting post- polio syndrome. He was 90.
"He was a very good husband and a wonderful father," said Kathleen Albrecht, his wife of 61 years. "He had a good sense of humor. He never seemed to let anything get him down."
Born in West Orange, N.J., Albrecht started as a baggage boy for United Airlines. He arrived in Honolulu in 1950 as a Pan American executive, fell in love with the island and refused to be rotated to another location.
"He was known as Mr. Pan Am," said Choy Lewis, his secretary of 19 years. "He was very popular and well known in the community."
After fighting polio in 1951, Albrecht learned to walk again after doctors told him he would not.
Goeas said the physical rehabilitation was strenuous and painful, "but he never gave up."
In 1954 he was named statewide Father of the Year.
His oldest daughter, Barbara Weber, remembered how he taught her to care for others.
"He always took me to visit the hospital, to show me what I had and to help those who were less fortunate," Weber said.
Albrecht served on numerous community organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, the Navy League and the Hawaii Visitors Bureau.
Albrecht was "always concerned with others who had less in the world," said Weber, noting that he helped to open the Institute of Human Services.
"He was always trying to help people. He was made up that way," said Kathleen Albrecht.
Albrecht retired from Pan American Airlines and the City of Honolulu in 1981. Afterward, he remained active in several charities.
"That was his makeup. He was the type of gentleman who would give, give, give," Goeas said. "He was always willing to give and never asked for anything in return."
He is survived by wife Kathleen; daughters Barbara Weber, Debra Pace and Linda Goeas; eight grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday at St. Clement Church.