Monday, June 14, 1999

‘Duffie’ Mendonca,
86, UH football star,
longtime businessman

By Lori Tighe


Hawaii developer, rancher, war veteran and football captain Adolph “Duffie” Joseph Mendonca died May 26 in Lodi, Calif. He was 86.

He cleared 1,600 acres of thicketed land on Molokai to build one of the state's model cattle ranches, the Kalae Ranch, where he raised white-faced Hereford in the 1950s.

A longtime local businessman, Mendonca served as chairman of the Oahu County Committee of the Republican Party during the Eisenhower administration, and became a supporter and close friend of Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi.

“My father was very interested in politics. He was a staunch and loyal Republican,” said his daughter, Yvonne Mendonca Johns.

Born in Kalihi, he graduated from St. Louis and the University of Hawaii, where he starred as right tackle on the 1934 football team.

That 1934 UH team beat the highly touted University of California team in the New Year's Day classic by holding them scoreless in a tight defensive battle. Mendonca captained the team in his senior year and after graduation played for the Town Team, then semiprofessional. He remained active for years afterward in UH alumni and athletic affairs.

“He never forgot where he came from,” Johns said.

He joined the military during World War II as a member of the 298th Infantry Division, serving in the South Pacific, Philippines and Japan from 1940 to 1945.

Mendonca achieved the rank of major and spent his last year of service as military governor of Gamma-ken during the American occupation. To prepare for the role, he went through military intelligence training and learned the Japanese language at the University of Virginia and Stanford University.

Upon his return to Honolulu, Mendonca became a developer, building housing for the postwar housing need. He became a small business owner, rancher, and lastly a real estate appraiser, at which he worked until his late 70s.

One lesson Johns will always remember from her father: “He taught me it's better to be generous than not.”

Mendonca left Hawaii in 1990 with his wife, Violet, to live closer to their children. The Mendoncas had been married for nearly 62 years.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mendonca is survived by children Duff and Elise, four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. The family had a private service in California. A memorial Mass will be offered in November, followed by his burial at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.


Bullet George Junior Chirrick, 70, of Hanapepe, Kauai, a retired Reef hotels chef and baker, died June 7 at Wilcox Memorial Hospital. Born in Mitchell, Neb., he is survived by wife Stephanie, son Jack, daughters Diana Theophilos and Deborah Elliott, brothers Vern and Rex, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Services: 10 a.m. Thursday at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Kalaheo. Call after 9 a.m. Burial: Kauai Veterans Cemetery in Hanapepe. Casual attire.

Bullet Robert Cheichi Mookini Kipilii, 57, of Naalehu, Hawaii, a retired chef, died Tuesday at Hilo Hospital. Born in Olaa, Hawaii, he is survived by wife Evalani; son Robert; daughter Roxanne; brothers Alexander “Tiny”, Obed, and Alfred; sisters Winona Kaluna and Natalie Kuluwaimaka; and four grandchildren. Services: 7 p.m. Wednesday at Naalehu Catholic Church and 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Call after 6 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. Thursday. Burial: Naalehu County Cemetery following Thursday service. Casual attire.

Bullet Mac Masaki Okutani, 81, of Honolulu, a retired sheet metal union apprentice coordinator, died May 14 at Maunalani Nursing Center. Born in Hilo, he is survived by daughters Judith Clemenson and Leanette Yasuda; sisters Ayako Shigemura, Hisako Otake, Setsuko Matsui, Mutsuko Turner and Yukie Takiguchi; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Service: 6 p.m. Thursday at Hosoi Garden Mortuary. Casual attire.

Bullet Shizue Tadaki, 84, of Honolulu, a retired seamstress at Reyn Spooner, died June 6 at St. Francis West Hospital. Born in Pawela, Maui, she is survived by husband Kiichi; sons Raymond, Calvin, Harold and Wayne; brother Shigeki Sato; and seven grandchildren. Private service held.

Bullet Dewey Hon Fo Wong, 76, of Honolulu, a retired electrical engineer, died May 24 at Queen's Hospital. Born in Hilo, he is survived by wife Teruko “Terry”; brother Charles; and sisters Aileene, Bertha, Annie Tanouye and Broadwin Davis. Private services held.

Bullet Edward Fun Chin Wong, 84, of Honolulu, a retired sign painter, died June 10 at home. He is survived by daughters Annette Alipio, Carole Villacorte and Elaine Yang; eight grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and two great- great-grandchildren. Service: 11:30 a.m. Thursday at Diamond Head Mortuary. Call after 10 a.m. Burial at Diamond Head Memorial Park.

You can also search the Hawaii State Library System's
Hawaii Newspaper Index online for older obituaries at:
The index, which goes back several decades,
is available via Telnet software.

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