Tuesday, October 19, 1999

Star Riley Allen Star

Star-Bulletin file photo
When the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, Riley Allen
called in his troops at the Star-Bulletin.

Star-Bulletin editor
had banner career

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


RILEY Allen was the living symbol of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin through much of the 20th century.

At age 28, he was editor of the Star-Bulletin when the Honolulu Evening Star and Honolulu Bulletin merged in 1912, and held the post until 1960, the year after statehood.

Statehood was a banner issue on the Star-Bulletin editorial pages under the Texas-born, Seattle-bred Allen. When news came from Washington that Hawaii was to become the 50th state, the Star-Bulletin got the story first with a front-page story and photo many still recall vividly.

The newspaper also was known for many other covers under Allen, including one that blared out in 5-inch-high font type: WAR!

On Dec. 7, 1941, Allen was the only newsman at his desk that Sunday morning when the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor; almost instantly, he began calling in his troops.

With the Honolulu Advertiser's presses down with mechanical trouble and unable to publish, it was Allen's Star-Bulletin that told Hawaii residents the first details of the tragedy.

Wrote Bob Roberts, one former underling, in the Seattle Times in 1975: "Whenever newspapermen of the time gather to reminisce and swap experiences, they still talk about the performance of Riley Allen and his pitch-in crew on the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that melancholy Sunday morning."

A lifelong Republican, Allen in 1914 upset local merchants by running a successful editorial campaign that forced the territorial Legislature to repeal a law that barred Asian children from public schools.

Such editorials helped attract to the Star-Bulletin readers who had felt disenfranchised by the local Fourth Estate, and made it the dominant newspaper through most of Allen's tenure.

Allen died in 1966, six years after retiring, at age 82.

Star Samuel Mills Damon Star

Star-Bulletin file photo
Samuel Mills Damon was one of the first
trustees of the Bishop Estate in 1884.

Banker involved in
historic changes

By Rick Daysog


BANKER, plantation manager, political insider and Bishop Estate trustee.

In the early 20th century, few men carried as much financial and political influence as Samuel Mills Damon.

This son of missionary parents helped modernize Hawaii's business community and played a large role in the annexation of the islands to the United States.

"He was among the leading figures in the Republic of Hawaii," said local historian Bob Dye.

Damon carved his niche at Bishop & Co., the forerunner of First Hawaiian Bank, where he followed in the footsteps of company founder Charles Reed Bishop and guided the bank as it grew. He also financed the construction of the Oahu Railway and served as a manager of Olaa Plantation.

Damon, who died in 1924, also joined Bishop as one of the first trustees of the Bishop Estate in 1884, a title he would hold for about 30 years.

But Damon was equally known for his role in the political changes that swept Hawaii during the late 19th century.

As Queen Liliuokalani's minister of finance, Damon helped convince Hawaii's last monarch to abdicate in 1893.

He later was a member of the advisory council to Republic of Hawaii President Sanford B. Dole and was a big player in the territorial government after annexation.

Today, Damon's lasting imprint can be seen in the trust that he established for his heirs. The Estate of Samuel Mills Damon, which until recently was First Hawaiian Bank's largest shareholder, is the state's fourth-largest private landowner.

The trust, partly established with lands originally willed to Damon by Princess Pauahi Bishop, is valued at $800 million, making it one of the wealthiest family fortunes in the nation.

Star The Rev. Abraham Akaka Star

Star-Bulletin file photo
The Rev. Abraham Akaka was pastor of Kawaiahao Church.

Hawaiian pastor’s
influence endures

By Mary Adamski


THE Rev. Abraham Akaka often used a ukulele in sermons and speeches. His message -- that the strings represent the diversity of humanity, which needs to be tuned to God to produce harmony -- still resonates.

The spiritual descendant of the Congregational ministers who brought Christianity to the islands, Akaka was pastor of Kawaiahao Church from 1957-1984. He died in 1997 at the age of 80.

The slight, soft-spoken kahu was the best-known Christian minister in modern Hawaii and was described as the most influential and widely known Hawaiian since Kamehameha the Great. Newsweek once described him as having the "charm of a beachboy and the force of a Billy Graham."

Akaka once said his life was guided by the precepts, "God first, others second, yourself third. The great need today is for a new kind of godly man, the man of aloha. The church should help prepare people to live creatively. Hawaii is a laboratory proving what can be done."

The confidant of the island's leaders, his services at the landmark church drew visiting dignitaries who included President Nixon in 1970. He developed a close friendship with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when he participated in a civil-rights symposium here.

He presided at the weddings and funerals of thousands; he carried Duke Kahanamoku's ashes out to sea.

Sought after as a speaker here and on the mainland, he was chosen to speak at a Hawaii statehood service of dedication in March 1959. He was the voice of prayerful aloha at graduations, groundbreakings and grand openings.

The son of a Hawaiian mother and a Chinese-Hawaiian father, Akaka was one of eight children who also included U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka. He told of how each day in the Pauoa Valley home began and ended with prayer and memorized recitation of the Scripture.

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