Aficionado of the arts nurtured opera in islands
Catharine L. Hite / 1924-2007
Catharine L. Hite was an avid supporter of culture and the arts in Hawaii, active in several roles with the Honolulu Symphony and serving as a docent at Iolani Palace and the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
Hite was on the symphony staff for 12 years until 1986, rising to become orchestra manager overseeing operations, the community concert series and education program, and coordinating opera productions. She was the first head of the Hawaii Opera Theatre board of directors.
"She didn't just coordinate everything; she was a great nurturer," said BeBe Freitas, associate artistic director of Hawaii Opera Theatre.
Hite, 82, died Wednesday at Arcadia Retirement Residence.
Her love of music was instilled by her mother, said her husband, Robert Hite. "It was from an appreciation point of view. We were great aficionados of the opera."
Her work with the symphony came when the orchestra society produced operas, before the separate Hawaii Opera Theatre was created.
Hite was a "passion-for-the-opera creature," Freitas said. "She was very elegant. She loved to entertain the artists in her home. The guest directors, artists, conductors, their cares became her cares. If there was a need, she would find someone to take care of it. She was warm, loving and cared for each person."
Freitas, who was rehearsal pianist, backstage conductor and singing coach, added: "We would plan the next rehearsal, with the conductor and director, over a glass of wine at the Hites' house. She had a thoughtful word to add to the process."
Robert Hite said his wife was in on the brainstorming to create the separate opera society and, with former conductor Robert LaMarchina and symphony president John Murphy, came up with the HOT title.
She was named to the community arts panel of the state Foundation on Culture and the Arts and participated in the Governor's Conference on the Year 2000. She was chairwoman of the Honolulu Academy of Arts Women's Guild. She served as a volunteer docent at the academy and at Iolani Palace for several years.
She was born in Boston and graduated from the College of William and Mary. The granddaughter of former Hawaii territorial Gov. Wallace Rider Farrington, she lived in Hawaii for a few years as a child and returned after World War II.
She is survived by Robert, her husband of 59 years; son Charles H.; daughters Patricia F. Barton and Catharine M. Dunn; brother Edmond H. Farrington; and five grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. May 29 at Arcadia Retirement Residence. The family requests casual attire. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Arcadia Retirement Residence, 1434 Punahou St., Honolulu 96822.