Honoring the Rev. Claude f. Du Teil
The Rev. Claude Du Teil's widow Bert Du Teil, in a white muumuu, looked at a display outlining her late husband's work with the homeless in Hawaii.
Legacy of charity
Passing out coffee and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches to the hungry on his birthday in 1978, the Rev. Claude F. Du Teil could not have foreseen how the Institute of the Human Services would grow from what was first dubbed the Peanut Butter Ministry.
"This is more than my father ever dreamed it could possibly be," said Mary Ann Du Teil, one of his four children. "I remember as a little child all the way through growing up if a wife was in trouble -- been abused -- my father would come home and go, 'Quickly, Mary Ann, move down the hall,' because my room was usually the cleanest."
On Friday, the reverend's son Bob Du Teil and his widow Bert Du Teil presented the Institute of Human Services with Du Teil's famous brown aloha shirt with a white collar in a ceremony honoring Du Teil's legacy and the three decades of service that IHS has provided to the homeless.
All four of Du Teil's adult children returned to Hawaii to watch the musical "Truly Dually" at Mamiya Theatre on the Chaminade University campus, which was written and composed by Michael Ullman and Roslyn Catracchia in the memory of Du Teil.
"He was a man that made a difference, who never compromised his own integrity and really believed in what he was doing," his son Claude "Duke" Du Teil Jr. said with tears in his eyes.
After a long battle with Parkinson's disease, Du Teil passed away at his home in Texas in 1997. Friends and family said his work lives on, and Du Teil would be humbled, but pleased to see the Institute of Human Services today.
"Rev. Claude ... spent a lifetime dedicated to ensuring that the less fortunate would never go hungry. He was a sterling example of what we all need to do a little more of," said Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
"He didn't wear his religion on his sleeve," his youngest son, Bob Du Teil, said. Then he quoted his father, saying, "'The sermon is in the soup.'"
Now serving more than 300 people a night, IHS has expanded from its inception in 1978. With an annual budget of about $6 million a year, IHS offers shelter, food, clothing, social services and other programs.
"This is the 30th year since he started IHS. We really felt like he was such a special person and had such special values that we really didn't want that to be lost," said Connie Mitchell, IHS executive director.
Longtime friends, previous voluntaries and his immediate family swapped stories of Du Teil, tales that brought on tears and laughter. The eldest of the Du Teil children, Susan Langford, recalled picking guavas to make jelly for the homeless.
"I actually give my mom the credit for starting the shelter because my dad was bringing people home to stay at our house. And I think my mom finally put her hands down," said Langford. "When I came home from college I would always have to sleep on the couch because there were people in my room."
Du Teil moved to Texas in 1993 when his health was failing. After his death, the homeless and others marched through the streets from the women and families shelter to the St. Andrew's Cathedral, the place where Du Teil's ashes were buried.
Although they have moved away from Hawaii, all of the Du Teil children and their children continue to work in the community.
"The philosophy of helping others and being of service is something that's permeated through the whole family and hopefully people we know," said his daughter Mary Ann Du Teil. "The legacy carries on."