Monsignor left
legacy of good

Charles Kekumano
1919 - 1998

Community leaders voice tribute to
'an extraordinary Hawaiian treasure'

By Harold Morse

Monsignor Charles Kekumano, proud of being Hawaiian, left "a lasting impression for good on this community," said U.S. District Judge Samuel P. King.

"He was active in anything that would help Hawaiian children, and he never lost his sense of humor," King said.

Attorney Beadie Kanahele Dawson said: "We have lost an extraordinary Hawaiian treasure."

Kekumano, 78, died yesterday of cancer at St. Francis Hospice.

He was one of five authors of the "Broken Trust" essay first published in the Star-Bulletin Aug. 9, which triggered an attorney general's investigation into Bishop Estate.

Rod McPhee, former president of Punahou School, said: "He was a man of such marvelous integrity and willingness to step forward on the issues of the day, including, of course, the recent Bishop Estate controversy.

"I just personally feel a tremendous loss because he was a good friend for nearly 30 years and always a person you enjoyed visiting with."

Kekumano also was remembered for his role as a trustee of the Queen Liliuokalani Trust, a position he accepted in 1986 and which he served in until his death.

"Monsignor Kekumano has been our leader and our inspiration," said Walter Dods Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of First Hawaiian Bank and one of three trustees of the Queen Liliuokalani Trust. "His strong sense of the value of family and community, his courage, his down-to-earth and accessible nature and his ever-present humor will be forever a part of the legacy of the Queen Liliuokalani Trust.

"Monsignor's deep and abiding understanding of his Hawaiian heritage sets an outstanding example for all of us and especially the beneficiaries and the staff of the trust."

Dawson, attorney for Na Pua a ke Alii Pauahi, an organization of Kamehameha Schools parents and teachers, said she was devastated.

"He is so much more than just a fine servant of God," she said.

"He believed fully in using his wisdom and talents for the Queen's children, all Hawaiians and for our community, especially for the Queen's children where he was trustee."

The Kona-born Kekumano graduated from St. Louis High School and earned a doctorate in canon law from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He was designated a monsignor by Pope John XXIII in 1961.

He served as chancellor of the Catholic Diocese and secretary to Bishop James Sweeney from 1954 to 1968, and later as pastor of Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in Honolulu and St. Anthony Church on Maui. He retired from the active ministry in 1984.

At his side when he died were Gladys Brandt, another "Broken Trust" author; retired Honolulu Police Chief Francis Keala and his wife, and Ambrose Rosehill and his wife.

"Broken Trust" co-author Randy Roth said last fall when Kekumano's cancer was announced that everyone should have a hero and Kekumano was one of his. "He's someone I admire greatly, and I hope someday I'll have one-tenth the wisdom and graciousness he has."

Among his many honors was the 1992 Humanitarian of the Year award from the Hawaii State Chapter of the American Red Cross. He several community organizations, including the Duke Kahanamoku Foundation, Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs and Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu. He served on the Honolulu Police Commission, Maui Charter Commission, University of Hawaii Board of Regents and the Hawaii Commission on Children and Youth. He was president of the 200 Club, Coalition for a Drug Free Hawaii and the Hawaii chapter of the United Service Organization.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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© 1998 Honolulu Star-Bulletin