Tributes, accolades pour in for veteran politician


POSTED: Thursday, June 11, 2009

Though his chair sat empty—draped with leis—fellow City Council members acknowledged the presence of Duke Bainum as they conducted perhaps their most important meeting of the year.

;[Preview]  Colleagues Express Reactions Over Bainum's Death

Honolulu Hale in a state of silence after learning the sudden death of councilman Duke Bainum.

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As they prepared to pass the operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year, Budget Chairman Nestor Garcia remarked how Bainum's “;fingerprints”; had left an indelible mark, even if he was not present for the vote.

“;Duke, especially, made sure that his concerns were addressed on the operating budget as well as the (capital improvement project) budget,”; Garcia said. “;I can say that, with all authority as the chairman, that it was Duke that made sure that we took into account all of the concerns that were raised.”;

The tributes and accolades to Bainum poured in yesterday as friends and colleagues expressed shock and sadness over his death Tuesday night from an aneurysm. He was 56.

Bainum appeared fine at work Tuesday and later played with his two young sons but experienced chest pains at night and was taken to the hospital, said Mallory Fujitani, a senior adviser.

“;He received treatment, but couldn't be revived,”; Fujitani said. “;There were no prior indications that anything was wrong.

“;Duke was a dedicated public servant who served his constituents with integrity and passion,”; she added. “;He will be sorely missed.”;

Council members observed a moment of silence before their meeting yesterday.

“;Obviously we start today with a heavy heart,”; said Council Chairman Todd Apo.

Councilman Charles Djou, whose political views most coincided with Bainum's, called him a friend who will be sorely missed.

“;I think for all of us here on the City Council it is the loss of a good Council member,”; Djou said. “;It is a loss of a good, kind and decent man.”;

Gov. Linda Lingle said she was deeply saddened by Bainum's death.

“;As a physician, he was trained to identify symptoms and treat patients based on his abilities, judgment and compassion,”; Lingle said. “;He approached public office in much the same way, by identifying the problems that ail our community and applying solutions that he believed would make our community stronger and help our residents thrive.”;

Bainum, a retired physician, served four years in the state House of Representatives, from 1990 to 1994, and eight years on the City Council, from 1994 to 2002.

He lost a close mayoral race to Mufi Hannemann in 2004 before returning to the Council in January.

“;His death caught us all by surprise,”; Hannemann said at a late afternoon news conference. “;Certainly as someone who has served with Duke Bainum—who was involved in a very spirited campaign with him in 2004—I knew him to be an individual who felt very strongly about certain things, and obviously his presence will be sorely missed on the City Council.”;

Bainum was born on July 21, 1952, in Maryland, the younger of two sons of Irvin and Evea Bainum. He grew up in Arkansas, where his father was a banker.

He received his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1980 and served his surgical residency at the University of Hawaii in 1980-82. He also attended the Western Regional Banking School in 2000, and the UH Public Administration program in 1989-1990.

Dr. Mihae Yu, one of his medical school classmates, said yesterday she was devastated by news of his death.

“;He was really smart and fun,”; Yu said in a statement released by the medical school. “;He knew even at that time that he had a mission way beyond being a doctor.”;

Born Mark Edmund Bainum, he got his nickname because of his admiration of actor John Wayne, known as “;The Duke.”; Bainum made “;Duke”; part of his legal name in 1987.

He married Hilo native Jennifer Ann Harumi Toma on Feb. 14, 2004. Each was married twice previously.

Bainum also was managing director of the holding company for Diamond Bank of Murfreesboro in Arkansas.

He is survived by his brother, Tim; their mother, Evea; his wife, Jennifer; and two sons, Z and Kona.

Funeral arrangements were pending yesterday.