Tuesday, August 3, 1999


Jimmy Tehada

Kauai’s Tehada
succumbs to cancer

More obituaries

By Anthony Sommer


LAWAI, Kauai -- Jimmy Tehada, who defined the term "public servant" for many Kauai residents for more than three decades, died at home Saturday following a long battle with cancer. He was 67.

Tehada was a key author of the 1972 Kauai General Plan that set the tone for preserving agricultural land on Kauai. He served on the Kauai County Planning Commission for more than a decade and the County Council from 1987 to 1994.

Tehada ousted incumbent Mayor JoAnn Yukimura in the 1994 Democratic primary election, but he was defeated by Republican Maryanne Kusaka in the general election.

In a prepared statement issued Monday, Kusaka praised Tehada "as a role model for those who strive to make their communities a better place for all."

In 1996, he returned to the Council but did not seek re-election in 1998 because of failing health.

"I visited him just a couple hours before he died, and I just kept thinking: What a loss, what a loss," said former Councilman Joe Munechika, one of Tehada's closest friends and political allies.

Many political leaders still refer to the two as "The Dynamic Duo" and "The Batman and Robin" of the County Council in the late '80s and early '90s. It is generally believed that together they sponsored and passed more legislation than any pair of councilmen before or since.

"We were good buddies," Munechika said yesterday. "I trusted Jimmy wholeheartedly, which is very unusual in politics. When he gave you his word, that was it, no matter how much pressure he got.

"He never did anything for Jimmy Tehada. He always did things for the community. I revered him and I'm really going to miss him."

Council Chairman Ron Kouchi said his clearest memory of Tehada was watching him flip through his documents for a meeting: Every sentence was highlighted.

Often Tehada would stay up all night before a Council meeting studying the issues.

Lihue Lawyer Mike Belles, who first met Tehada in 1975 when Belles was a deputy county attorney assigned to the Planning Commission, called Tehada "a passionate public servant" whose primary interest was land-use planning. "I think he had the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance memorized better than I did."

"If you were going to take him on over an issue, you had better be very prepared," Belles added.

Tehada was known for his lengthy dissertations at Council meetings, usually outlining the entire history of the subject he was discussing.

"I often thought he should start with, "In the beginning,' just like the Bible, but if you listened he helped present things in their proper historical context in a way no one else could. Jimmy's corporate memory was invaluable to many of us," Belles said.

Tehada was born in Waiahole on Oahu and graduated from Ben Parker High School (now Castle High School) in Kaneohe in 1950. An engineer with Hawaiian Telephone, he was transferred to Kauai in 1971. He retired in 1987.

He is survived by his wife, Ethel; son, Ryan; daughter, Diane Andres; and three grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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