He was among the first who served


POSTED: Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stanley Ikuo Hara's 26 years in the territorial Legislature and state Legislature covered a historic span of time.

The Hilo lawmaker was among the first island nisei elected in 1954, a landmark of change as the Democratic Party and the sons of former plantation workers took the reins from the Republican landowner establishment. He served until his retirement in 1980.

Hara, 86, died Dec. 1 at his Hilo home after battling cancer.

“;That is the first generation of statehood legislators that we look up to. These are the ones who broke the barriers for all of us, opening the doors of opportunity wide,”; said state Rep. Marcus Oshiro, whose father, Robert Oshiro, served with Hara.

Hara represented the Hilo district in the state House of Representatives, where he served as chairman of the Finance Committee for six years. In 1969 Gov. John A. Burns appointed him to fill a vacant seat in the state Senate, and he served there for three terms. He chaired the Senate education committee and ecology, environmental and recreation committee.


The University of Hawaii at Hilo honored him with the its Distinguished Alumni and Service Award in 2008. He is credited with helping establish UH-Hilo as a four-year comprehensive university. A scholarship, established in his name by the Two-Ten Golf Club, was presented this year to a UH-Hilo student who will enter medical school.

“;He was very positive about his politics,”; said Chuck Freedman, executive director of the state Democratic Party. “;I was a young Democrat on the Big Island while he represented it. He was a grass-roots campaigner back in the day when it wasn't about media, it was about working the crowd. He knew how to do that. He won races based on his energy. He was good-hearted, charming and bright and always wore a classic bow tie.”;

Gov. Linda Lingle ordered the state flag to be flown at half-staff at state and county buildings today. She said in a statement that Hara “;was one of the visionary leaders who helped forge the foundation of our state into what we cherish today.”;

Hara was a real estate manager and developer, working with H&I Realty Services Inc. and Hawaiian Island Homes Ltd. He was a former director of the International Billfish Tournament. He was active with the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce, the Ancient Order of Foresters, Hilo Hooganji Mission and many other organizations.

He was born in Honolulu.

Hara is survived by wife Diane H.; sons Glenn of Hilo and Bradley of Honolulu; sisters Sadako Tokoro, Kaneko Mikami, Gladys Mikami, Violet Chung and Mary Morisugi, all of Honolulu; and three grandchildren.

Memorial services were held Wednesday in Honolulu and are scheduled for today at Dodo Mortuary in Hilo.