Friday, April 25, 1997

Tennyson, 52, world leader
in solar vehicle design

By Rod Thompson

PAAUILO, Hawaii -- Electric car builder Jonathan Tennyson had worn a full beard for at least a decade, but in recent years he had allowed it to get longer and bushier, emphasizing his hippie image.

It wasn’t until recently that friends discovered that he’d been using it to hide the cancerous tumor growing on his neck, said business associate Tony Locricchio.

Tennyson died Monday. He was 52.

Locricchio called Tennyson a world-recognized leader of solar electric vehicle design.

“He became the encyclopedia that people from around the world would call,” Locricchio said.

From across the nation, calls have been coming into Suntera Solar Electric Chariot Co. on the Hamakua Coast, where Tennyson was president, pledging to continue his work, said Locricchio, the company’s vice president.

Tennyson began his career studying business at Duquesne University in Indiana on a golf scholarship, Locricchio said. A career in marketing followed in Florida, where he also experimented with everything from propane to steam to run cars.

In 1981, Tennyson moved to Hamakua on the Big Island, teaming with hair care products manufacturer John Paul Mitchell.

They and other friends lived at a solar-powered farm above Paauilo. Until his death in the late 1980s, Mitchell bankrolled Tennyson’s experiments including the Mana La car that entered the 1987 trans-Australia solar race.

In 1993, the U.S. Department of Defense provided the state with $5 million, part of which was supposed to go to Suntera for three- wheeled “C-mobiles.”

Tennyson also turned his attention to smoke-belching motorscooters, especially in Asian cities, which produce at least eight times as much pollution as cars.

China representatives discussed the problem with Tennyson, who turned to designing an electric scooter that would sell for less than $1,000.

When he developed cancer about two years ago, he said nothing and sought no treatment, remembering his friend Mitchell’s losing battle with the disease.

“He was very quiet but also very hardheaded,” Locricchio said. “He had an agenda. He had a program. He knew that he had little time to get what he had in his head out.”

Among Tennyson’s projects were setting up solar car construction teams at Konawaena High and other schools.

“I saw him as an incredible visionary as well as an entrepreneur,” said Konawaena teacher Bill Woerner.

Woerner said he took dozens of students to Tennyson’s farm to look at alternate energy projects.

“He influenced and changed the life of a lot of students on the island,” Woerner said.

Tennyson is survived by his long-time companion, Lisa Keiler, and four children, Amy, Brett, Rosie and Leilani.

A service will be at 1 p.m. Sunday at Tennyson’s farm at Paauilo. A gathering will follow at the company facility in Honokaa.

Alejandro C. Amoguis, 58, of Honolulu will be buried Wednesday in Valley of the Temples. He was killed in a traffic accident Sunday at Ala Moana Center. Born in Mabini, Boholo, the Philippines, he is survived by daughter Levi Amoguis-Bravo; sons Glicerio II, Ronald, Julito and Roy; brothers Ricarte, Lamberto and Manuel; sisters Lilia Acierto and Sarah Lozano; and four grandchildren. Visitation: 8 to 11 a.m. Wednesday at Nuuanu Mortuary.

David B. Coburn, 46, of Laie will be remembered in services: 10 a.m. Monday at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Laie. Call after 9 a.m. Inurnment with full military honors at Laie Cemetery. Incorrect information for an obituary yesterday provided by the mortuary.

Embrocio S. Fernandez, 91, of Lihue, a printer for Lihue Plantation Sugar and former employee of Garden Isle Newspaper, died Tuesday in Wilcox Hospital. Born in the Philippines, he is survived by wife Teresita; daughters Abbie Hussey and Clarice Eguchi; son Ambrose Jr.; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Mass: 10:30 a.m. next Friday at Immaculate Conception Church, Kapaia. Call 9-10:15 a.m. Casual or aloha attire. No flowers.

Natividad “Dorothy” Galiza, 75, of Wahiawa died March 22 in Riverside, Calif. Born in Waialua, Hawaii, she is survived by sons Edward, Leonard, Roland, Steven, Derwin and Brian; daughters Carmen Luna, Patricia Lorita, Geraldine Abergas and Theresa Jimenez; brother Jose Galariada; sister Evelyn Fernandez; 17 grandchildren; and 27 great-grandchildren. Mass: 7 p.m. Tuesday at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, Wahiawa. Call 6-9 p.m. Burial held.

David N. Keohokapu, 62, of Hilo, a longshoreman, died Monday at home. Born in Honolulu, he is survived by wife Patricia A.; son William; daughter Susan; brother Samuel D.; sisters Lily La Rue, Audrey Keoho and Rachel Pereira; and two grandchildren. Services: 11 a.m. Tuesday at Memorial Mortuary. Call after 9 a.m. Burial: Alae Cemetery. Casual attire.

Koby Kobayashi, infant son of Dwight and Liza of Hilo will be remembered in services today. He died last Friday in Kapiolani Hospital. He is also survived by grandparents Wayne and Ann Kobayashi and Raymond and Nellie Shigeta; and great-grandmothers Matsue Ito and Elizabeth Monji. Services: 7 p.m. today at Olivet Baptist Church. Casual attire. No flowers.

Steward W. Militante, 41, of Kahului, a maintenance supervisor at Harbor Lights Condominium, died Tuesday in Kahului. Born in Honolulu, he is survived by wife Sharon K.; son Hoku; daughters Suga Calhau and Jalia and Piilani Militante; mother Inez Yee Poong; father Hyrum Yee Poong; sisters Kalu Alconcel, Momi Kealoha, Rindy Yelverton and Keikilani Felacilda; brother Hyrum Yee Pong Jr.; two grandchildren; and Maui hanai family. Services: 11 a.m. Monday at First Assembly of God Church. Call 9-10 a.m. Services: 3 p.m. Tuesday at Hosoi Garden Mortuary. Call after 1 p.m. Cremation to follow.

Ramon M. “Jr” Padilla, 55, of Pearl City, a retired housekeeping supervisor with Queen’s Medical Center, died April 13 in Kapiolani Hospital at Pali Momi. Born in Dingras, Ilocos Norte, the Philippines, he is survived by wife Natividad “Naty” T.; son Allen James T.; daughters Brenda Grace T. and Cindy Lee T.; father Ramon M.; brothers Felicito Padilla and Bernard Anguay; sisters Francisca Domingo and Flordelita Gamayo. Rosary: 7 p.m. Sunday at Mililani Mortuary-Waipio, mauka chapel. Call 6-9 p.m. Mass: 9:30 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, 1525 Waimano Home Road, Pearl City. Call after 9 a.m. Burial: Mililani Memorial Park. Casual attire.

Jane K. Yamashita, 75 of Aiea, who died April 17 is also survived by sister Marcy C. Kuniyoshi. Incorrect information for an obituary yesterday provided by the mortuary.

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