Councilman Duke Bainum dies


POSTED: Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Honolulu City Councilman Duke Bainum died suddenly last night in Honolulu after suffering an aneurysm, his office announced this morning. He was 56.

“We are deeply saddened to announce that council member Duke Bainum passed away last night at approximately 11 p.m. from complications due to an aneurysm,” a City Council news release said. “We respectfully request that media and well-wishers respect the family’s privacy at this time. Information on a memorial service will be forthcoming.”

Members of Bainum’s staff appeared visibly upset as they gathered with Council Chairman Todd Apo to make a brief statement to the media this morning.

Mallory Fujitani, Bainum’s senior adviser, said he felt fine at work yesterday and was “having fun chasing his kids around” in the evening.

He later experienced chest pains and was taken to the emergency room for treatment, “but couldn’t be revived,” Fujitani said.

“;There were no prior indications that anything was wrong,” she said, reading from a written statement.

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

Apo said he was informed of the news by one of Bainum’s staff members early today. “We’re all very sadden by the news of Councilmember Bainum’s passing — a very big shock to all of us,” he said. “We all had the honor to work with Duke over the past few months since he returned to the council in January.

“I think we’re all dealing with the shock of the news right now.”

Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who defeated Bainum in the 2004 mayoral election, issued a statement saying, “Like other members of the city ohana, I was shocked to learn of the untimely death of Duke Bainum. I served with him on the City Council, and we vied for the mayor’s seat in 2004. Throughout it all, I knew him as a man with a heartfelt desire to help others. In his work as a member of the Honolulu City Council, Duke was a dedicated public servant and a strong voice for those he represented.

“I join everyone in the City and County of Honolulu in offering our condolences to his wife Jennifer and children, as well as to the Bainum family.”

Councilman Charles Djou also offered his condolences to the family, adding, “I am stunned by the passing of my friend and colleague Duke Bainum. Duke was a dear friend, a great councilmember, and most of all a decent man. The people have lost an honest, hardworking public servant.”

Bainum, a retired physician, served four years in the state House of Representatives, from 1990-94, and eight years on the Honolulu City Council, from 1994-2002.

He returned to the City Council after being elected to represent District 5 (McCully-Kaimuki) last year, replacing Ann Kobayashi who resigned to run against Hannemann.

Brian Schatz, chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, said, “We are all shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the passing away of Councilmember Duke Bainum. Duke was an honest and hardworking public servant, always simultaneously friendly and earnest. He will be missed by us all.”

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

Mark Edmund 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 from 1980-82. He also attended the Western Regional Banking School in 2000, and the UH Public Administration program in 1989-1990.

 Bainum made his nickname “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.

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