JOHN LAKE / 1937-2008
STAR-BULLETIN / JUNE 2006
Kumu Hula John Lake presides over his class as they stretch prior to chanting and dancing kahiko. Lake taught both native Hawaiian chant and dance at the Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Kumu hula and founder of Halau Mele dies at 70
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Kumu Hula John Lake, founder of Halau Mele and a longtime teacher at Saint Louis School, is remembered as a tireless champion of Hawaiian spirit and culture.
He died yesterday at age 70.
"He understood protocol and how to perpetuate the Hawaiian spirit and the Hawaiian culture with a true spirit of aloha," said Patrick Bullard, a 1981 Saint Louis graduate.
A native of Lahaina, Lake was chief of protocol for the canoe Hokule'a when it sailed to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in 1999. He was also kahuna nui of the Puukohola Heiau, built by Kamehameha I in 1791.
Services are pending.
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Hula master John Keola Lake, a teacher who worked tirelessly to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture, died yesterday at the age of 70.
Lake died at Straub Clinic & Hospital of complications from pneumonia, his son Joshua Lake said. He had been battling cancer for about five years.
"His energy and his spirit was definitely there to the end," Lake said. "He just wouldn't stop."
John Lake was a teacher at Saint Louis School for more than 30 years, teaching Spanish and history and starting the school's Hawaiian Studies Program.
"He understood protocol and how to perpetuate the Hawaiian spirit and the Hawaiian culture with a true spirit of aloha," said Patrick Bullard, a 1981 Saint Louis graduate and former student of Lake's.
"He also perpetuated the Hawaiian culture with a true understanding of the way it should be," said Bullard, senior director of Heinrich Marketing.
In April, Saint Louis celebrated Lake at its Ohana Festival, which he started about 20 years ago.
Lake had also been recognized as Outstanding Hawaiian Civic Club member, Outstanding Hawaiian in 1980, and Outstanding Teacher of the Year by Saint Louis School in 1985.
Born in Lahaina on Oct. 11, 1937, Lake graduated from Saint Anthony's High School in Wailuku and then attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
He graduated from the University of San Francisco and received a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in education. He also received a Master of Arts in linguistics from the University of Valencia, Spain. Lake was fluent in Spanish and Hawaiian.
Lake began teaching in 1959 in San Francisco. In 1962 he began teaching at Saint Louis. He founded the after-school Hawaiian club Hui o na Opio in 1965, through which he taught thousands of students at Saint Louis and other schools.
In 1993 he retired from Saint Louis after more than 30 years of teaching but continued as a cultural adviser and established the Hawaiian Language and History Institute at Chaminade University, according to the Saint Louis School Web site.
After retiring he seemed to only get busier, his son Joshua said. He continued to teach Hawaiian culture as he learned it from his grandmother, he said.
He was chief of protocol for the Hokule'a when it voyaged to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in 1999.
He became kahuna nui of the Puukohola Heiau, the state's largest heiau, built by Kamehameha I in 1791, and led an annual summit there every August.
"He knew all types of people. He was a connector," Joshua Lake said.
Mahealani Wong, who took oli (chant) and hula lessons under Lake for 11 years, said his dance was expressive and his chanting versatile.
"You may not have understood the Hawaiian words, but if you watched, if you listened, you just felt like you did."
Wong continues to teach at Halau Mele, Lake's school for hula and oli, as Lake had asked her to.
"It's the greatest gift a teacher could ask for," he told the Star-Bulletin in 2006. "To be able to look back at my students and see what they've accomplished. ... It's one of the most exciting things to pass down tradition."
Lake is survived by his wife of 41 years, Barbara Lake; sons John Jr. and Joshua, and Kapono'ai Molitau; daughter Naomi Lake; and four grandchildren.
Services are pending.