Thursday, July 29, 1999

Peace Corps leader Suyat
was mentor to many

See also Obituaries

By Mary Adamski


Stanley Suyat went from law school into the Peace Corps as a teacher in the Philippines, and dedication to mentoring and helping youngsters was a main theme in his life from that time on.

Nearly 30 years later, he returned to the Peace Corps as associate director for management with a team charged to revamp and recharge the agency.

"He felt really blessed to be able to serve on that level," said his wife, Linda. "He was especially excited because for the first time, former volunteers were running the agency. They had such a passion for it, they all loved it and believed in the mission."

The Honolulu attorney signed up to work in Bill Clinton's 1993 presidential campaign and ended up working in Washington, D.C., for the past six years. After four years with the Peace Corps, his last assignment was with the U.S. Department of Energy as director of civil rights and diversity.

It topped a career of government service that included positions with the state as deputy tax director and Office of Consumer Protection director, and with the city as first deputy corporation counsel.

Suyat, who was diagnosed with cancer in January, died Sunday in the Maurice J. Sullivan Family Hospice Center.

"He was very interested in getting people of different cultures and backgrounds to understand each other," said former city Corporation Counsel Gary Slovin.

Suyat's Washington appointments were positions intended to bring agencies "to recognize there would be more people of different cultures in government and that there was a lot of insensitivity toward differences. He saw that it was a future issue that has to be addressed in the country. That was going to be the theme of the next 10 years for Stan," he said.

Linda Suyat said her husband "often spoke to groups to encourage minorities to achieve more. That was his interest." He was active with the Asian-American Government Executives Network, which mentors young people.

He was a founding president of Hawaii Youth at Risk, organized in the 1980s based on a California program that helped troubled teen-agers through a wilderness experience camp and counseling.

Slovin said Suyat directed the young attorneys program in which the corporation counsel's office gave beginning lawyers training. "Probably of all the things he did, that was one of which he was most proud," he said.

Suyat's aunt was married to Thurgood Marshall, the first black appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court and a giant in the civil-rights movement. "He was a young man when they got to know Thurgood," said Linda Suyat. "It was an influence in inspiring him to become an attorney, to be of service, to help his fellow man.

After Suyat's work in the presidential campaign in Nevada, with a Democratic victory there for the first time in years, his first appointment was as White House liaison and acting chief of staff with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Suyat was formerly a partner with Carlsmith Ball Wichman Case and Ichiki. He was also employed in personnel administration with United Parcel Service.

He is also survived by son Jonathan; daughter Stacey; parents Donald and Laurie Suyat; and brother Reginald Suyat.

Services will be at noon Sunday at Diamond Head Mortuary. The family suggests that casual attire be worn and that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Maurice J. Sullivan Family Hospice Center, 91-2127 Fort Weaver Road, Ewa Beach, HI 96706.

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