EDUARDO ENABORE MALAPIT / 1933-2007
Former Kauai mayor saw development boom on isle
Eduardo Enabore Malapit, former Kauai mayor and the first mayor of Filipino descent in the United States, died Monday at Wilcox Memorial Hospital due to an illness. He was 74.
His commitment to public service was tireless, associates said. "He devoted his life to public service and making a difference in people's lives," said his niece Candy Suiso.
Malapit, affectionately known as "Mala," was elected to serve four consecutive two-year terms as Kauai mayor from 1974 to 1982.
He played an integral role in improving Kauai by developing numerous parks, neighborhood centers, sports facilities, fire and police stations, refuse transfer stations and sewer treatment plants, Suiso said.
Malapit was born in Hanapepe, where his parents, Eusebio and Leonila Malapit, owned and operated the Hanapepe Pool Hall in the 1960s. As a child, Malapit had a shoeshine stand in front of the pool hall.
He received a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Hawaii. He then obtained a law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1962.
Before Malapit served as mayor, he was elected to four two-year terms on the Kauai County Council. Thereafter, he served as chairman of the state Board of Labor and Industrial Relations from 1983 to 1987.
Malapit also served as the state governor's representative for Kauai from 1987 to 1990. He also served as a part-time magistrate, Suiso said.
Throughout the years, he was a mentor for many people such as Kauai Councilman Ronald Kouchi, who was inspired by Malapit to enter public service. "If I hadn't got involved in his campaign, I wouldn't have thought of running for office," Kouchi said.
When he was 23, Kouchi was involved in Malapit's campaign for his last mayoral term. Malapit and Kouchi's father, Mitch, graduated together from Waimea High.
Malapit was a charismatic person who had a presence when he walked into a room, Kouchi said. "He had that strong, moving speaking voice. When he started to talk, he had great command of the room," he added.
Along with his mayoral commitments, Malapit served in various organizations. He served as president of and legal adviser to Kauai Pop Warner, adviser and organizer of the Koloa Youth Baseball Organization, president of the Koloa Lions Club and a director of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau.
"He was my friend and supporter," said U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, who got Malapit's help in her successful bid for lieutenant governor in 1994. "He was a colorful and humble man who had a great sense of loyalty and friendship. I will certainly miss Mala," Hirono said.
While serving the community, Malapit never cut his time short from his family. "As busy as he was, he always made time for us," Suiso said. "He modeled the importance of gathering family together and being around family."
Every summer, family members would head to a cabin Malapit built in Haena, where they would fish and camp. Fishing was his favorite pastime, Suiso said. He was also a great storyteller, she added.
"We're going to miss so much of his laughter and his stories and getting the family together," Suiso said.
Malapit is survived by his wife of 45 years, Elizabeth; sons, Kevin, Lon, Kent and Lyle; sisters Julia Malapit Smith and Lorraine Lo; brothers William, Mark, Earl and Noel; four grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
Services are pending.