Isles bid aloha,
not goodbye, to
‘Brudda Iz’

Photos by Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Thousands paid their respects to the late Israel 'Iz'
Kamakawiwo'ole as his body lies in state at the Capitol
yesterday. Below, his wife, Marlene, spends a private moment
at the head of the legendary entertainer's casket.

Ten thousand pay last respects
to the legendary entertainer
whose music will live on

By Mary Adamski

They stood for hours in their slippers in a shoulder-locked crowd for a pass-by glimpse of the body of the gentle giant in a koa casket beneath a 50-foot Hawaiian flag.

They lingered for the free concert of island stars singing their salutes to singer, musician and composer Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, who died June 26 at age 38.

They went silent when amplifiers carried the voice of "Brudda Iz" from a radio interview, but became a dull roar of underlying conversation when a minister's preaching went on and on.

They came for the spectacle and drama. By their sheer numbers and their demeanor, they were the spectacle and drama.

Police and Capitol guards said the predicted crowd of 10,000 came true as people of all ages, Hawaiians and their friends of all ethnic groups, paid tribute to the entertainer whom they felt they knew and whose songs played in their hearts.

"I named my baby after him, that was the year that 'Skippy' died," said Robin Avilla. She did not know Iz nor his brother, Skippy, who died in 1982. But her son Israel, 14, feels a link with the man through his songs, and "He has touched my heart," said Avilla. "In this day and age, with the gangs and drugs, I thank God my kids went into music and dancing."

She and several members of the Ha'o ohana arrived at 3 p.m. to claim a front row stretch of the barricade surrounding the courtyard. They held onto it, taking turns going through the viewing lines, then returning for the continuing musical show.

"I saw him at the (Aloha Week) hoolaulea, he's a good singer," said Emma Lino, 11, who liked his "n Dis Life" best. She and her pal Tiffany Adkins, 14, lined the rail with other youngsters and teachers from "Halau Ke Kia'i A O Hula" of Kapalama.

"He's a brother; I just wanted to send my respect," said Annette Jardine, who got in line at 1 p.m. "I never met him but I'm Hawaiian. 'Kamalani' really sings to me."

Photos by Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Songwriter and musician Del Beazly hugs his son, Del,
during the ceremony at the state Capitol yesterday
honoring Kamakawiwo'ole.

The Rev. Ethel Amina of Waianae Pentecostal Faith Church and her family were among dozens of relatives of Kamakawiwo'ole at the event. Amina and her daughter, Joy Kaio, said they were joyful because Israel chose to be baptized a Christian a year ago. "The last time I saw him, he told me: 'When I get out (of the hospital), I want to walk into my grandpa's church again.' He had the spirit and people were drawn to him," said Kaio.

The state Capitol courtyard has been used for a public lying-in-state only twice before, for Gov. John A. Burns and U.S. Sen. Spark Matsunaga. Gov. Ben Cayetano has received some criticism and complaints about granting the family's request for its use.

The governor said earlier yesterday: "Israel was a state treasure. He was a giant in his field. He had achieved a special status. The state Capitol is a facility that's owned by the people of the state and symbolizes the public trust."

Photos by Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Among the prople paying their respects to 'Brudda Iz' at the state
Capitol yesterday are, front row from left, Precious Ma'ave, 5;
Tiffany Adkins, 14; Emma Lino, 11; Chelsea Vally-Rhody, 3;
Chelsea's auntie Terry Rhody (behind her); and David McChee, 11.
An estimated 10,000 people visited during the course of the day.

Cayetano and his wife, Vicky, paid their respects at the casket at the beginning of yesterday's event. They presented a maile and ilima lei and a proclamation honoring Israel.

The entertainer's wife, Marlene Kamakawiwo'ole, wearing a dark blue velvet holoku, sat beside the casket in a rattan throne chair, with their daughter Ceslieanne "Wehe," 14, at her side. At the other side was his sister, Lydia Kauakahi, and members of her family.

Israel's brother-in-law Louis "Moon" Kauakahi and the rest of the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau led the procession of headline entertainers that included Na Leo Pilimehana, Roland Cazimero, Henry Kapono, Olomana and many others. Singer Del Beazley, who composed "Johnny Mahoe" and other tunes that Iz recorded, sang "Mahalo Brudda Iz, Aloha Hui Hou," one of several new songs that have been written to or about Israel since his death.

The poster-sized portrait over the coffin showed a serene Israel with his wife's hand on his head, taken when she was fixing his hair for a photo shoot, said Jon de Mello of Mountain Apple Co., producer of the artist's string of award-winning solo albums after he left the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau. "She took beautiful care of him. They were so much in love," de Mello said.

Photos by Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
In the rotunda of the state Capitol, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's
casket is surrounded by flowers, kahili and well-wishers.
A large portrait of the artist hangs above it.

"I'm thinking about him every hour of the day, I can't imagine life without him." De Mello said he has composed four songs for Iz since his death.

He said the family is aware of the criticism of the Capitol spectacle. "He was a voice to the people, he talked to the people directly. In ancient Hawaii, there were two classes of people, the alii and the makaainana, the working people, the people of the land. That's who Israel represented," de Mello said.

He said a team of nearly 50 family and friends cooperated in building the casket of koa, with wood from all the islands. "Made by Hawaiians for a Hawaiian, it's a piece of artwork," de Mello said. The custom-made coffin was required for the man who weighed more than 700 pounds at his death.

De Mello said many people brought photographs they had taken of Iz as their hookupu, gifts, handed over to ushers when they approached to view the body.

"Where do you go for a human experience like this," said Clayton Hee, chairman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of trustees. "I bet nine out of 10 of these people have never been to the state Capitol before this. If Israel is the reason they're here, Israel is still making a contribution."

Services were to be held today at Borthwick Mortuary with visitation until 2 p.m. There will be ceremonies for scattering of the ashes from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Makua Beach.

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