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Saturday, April 22, 2000

Gerald Weller took isle
tours to new heights;
dies at 80

The pilot and aviation expert helped
make and preserve air history

More obituaries

By Lori Tighe


His biography reads like a Who's Who of flying: Pioneer of the commuter airline industry. Co-founder of the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Helped build America's first jet.

He even met one of the Wright brothers.

To Gerald Weller, flying planes in blue skies and searching for grass runways was the new frontier.

Weller, owner and operator of Paradise Air Tours in Honolulu, died March 23 in Illinois from complications of a stroke and Alzheimer's. He was 80.

"He had a tremendous historical knowledge about military aviation," said Robert Fukuda, former U.S. attorney in Hawaii. "Our friendship goes way back. He was a wonderful man, a really good friend."

Weller, born in Detroit and raised in Meadville, Pa., "came from a pretty harsh childhood," said son Robert Weller, who lives in Kona.

His father was driven in life by a love of flying and a fear of boredom, Weller said.

"Flying was his whole life. He was ahead of his time. He often had 15 ideas on the drawing board. People who laughed at him, stopped laughing when his ideas became successful."

Weller worked in aviation his entire life, from aeronautical engineer to pilot, to flight instructor, to oft-quoted aviation expert on CNN.

While serving in the Air Force during World War II, he helped design the nation's first jet, the Bell P-59, first flown in 1942. He also helped build the first aircraft to break the speed of sound, the Bell X-1.

He was founder and president of several airlines, including the first commuter airline, called Wright Airlines in Cleveland. It was also the first to be financed by the sale of stock on Wall Street.

He helped found the National Aviation Hall of Fame, chartered by Congress. He also co-founded the Air Force Museum Foundation and helped raise over $10 million to support what has become the world's largest air museum, in Dayton, Ohio.

Weller's wife, Ada, brought them to Hawaii in the early 1970s through a job promotion in a cosmetics company. "He absolutely loved Hawaii," she said. "He fell in love with it."

He began Paradise Air, which offered land and air tours of Oahu. He made a lifelong friend of his competitor, Hans Mueller, owner of Hawaiian Air Tour Service.

"He was very, very upright and extremely bright. He had a lot of depth as well," said Mueller. "He wasn't all talk."

Weller is also survived by daughter Penny Howard, son Bruce Weller, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Services have been held.

Annie L. Ayau, 95, of Honolulu, a retired teacher from Puuhale School, died April 13 in Honolulu. Graveside services: 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Kaahumanu Puea II Cemetery on Alani and Kapalama Streets. Donations suggested to Puuhale School.

Helene V. Brander, 70, of Kihei, a buyer for the federal government, died Tuesday in Maui Memorial Hospital. She was born in California. She is survived by daughters Ramona Villalpando and Luana Dupree-Smith and three grandchildren. Services: 7 p.m. Thursday at First Assembly of God, Prayer Chapel.

Rene C. Catalan, 46, of Mililani, former president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit agency Makaala, died Sunday. He was also an instructor of business and accounting at the University of Hawaii-Manoa and UH-West Hawaii and a business owner. He was born in Manila. He is survived by wife Jeanne; daughter Noelle; sons Justin and Devon; parents Francisco and Angelita; brother Ariel; and sisters Heidi Payne, Stella Catalan and Yasmin Nakamura. Wake services: 7 p.m. Tuesday at Mililani Mortuary-Waipio, mauka chapel. Call from 6 to 9 p.m. Mass: 11:15 a.m. Wednesday at St. John Apostle & Evangelist Church. Call after 10 a.m. Burial: Mililani Memorial Park. Casual attire.

Clarence "Sonny" Chun, 67, of Honolulu, a retired aircraft inspector for Aloha Airlines, died Wednesday in Honolulu. He was born in Honolulu. He is survived by Laurenia "Rusty"; sons Russell and Rodney; daughters Roxanne Sato and Rhonda Endo; father Reuben Wong; brother Daniel; sisters Annette Lam, Harriet Akuna and Betty Lau; and four granddaughters. Services: 6:45 p.m. Tuesday at Hawaiian Memorial Park Mortuary. Call from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Inurnment: 10 a.m. Wednesday at the park, Hillcrest Garden. Aloha attire.

Rosemary K. Kaio, 53, of Honolulu, head housekeeper for the Ilikai Hotel, will be remembered in services 1 p.m. Tuesday at Ballard Family Mortuary. Call from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Casual attire. She is survived by brother Mitchell and sister Irene Gray. Incorrect information for an obituary published Thursday provided by the mortuary.

James Y. Kamitono, 96, of Wahiawa, a retired superintendent greenskeeper from Kalakaua Golf Course, died Sunday in Wahiawa General Hospital. He was born in Fukui, Japan. He is survived by wife Fusae; sons Robert, Richard and Roy; daughters Nancy Baker, Jane Chee, Mae Rodrigues and Merle Urata; brother James K.; sisters Shizuko Tsuda and Mitsue Makanani; 36 grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren. Memorial services: 6:30 p.m. Monday at Mililani Mortuary-Waipio, mauka chapel. Casual attire. No flowers.

Rose K.K.K. Krizinauskas, 80, of Waianae, owner/proprietor of Seabreeze Cafe, died April 15 in Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. She was also a former employee of Alvin's Drive-Inn. She was born in Kamuela, Hawaii. She is survived by son Robert K. Armitage; daughter Sandy K. Armitage; brothers David Kailianu, Albert and Herbert Victor, Randy J. Kapule, Gervin Victor-Kainaliu and Joe-Kalima Victor-Kailianu; sisters Lani Kohlhoff, Rellety Bardaville, Wonda Okamoto, Brendalynn Weber, Hattie Nabong, Mellowdy Fujiyama, Laverne Sylva, Rhoda Medeiros and Sheba Crusat; hanai sisters Betty-Ann Olayvar and Thelma Lindsey; 13 grandchildren; and 33 great-grandchildren. Wake services: 7 p.m. Tuesday at Mililani Mortuary-Waipio, makai chapel. Call from 6 to 9 p.m. Services: 10 a.m. Wednesday at the mortuary. Call after 9 a.m. Burial: Mililani Memorial Park. Casual attire.

Keiko Maeda, 69, of Honolulu, a retired counter clerk for Ebisu Catering, died April 14 in Kuakini Hospital. She was born in Kumamoto, Japan. She is survived by daughters Grace K. Maeda and Violet Y. Kim; sisters Mieko Goto, Emiko Matsufuji, Reiko Sakurai and Ritsuko Horioka; and mother Nitsue Goto. Services: 6 p.m. Tuesday at Hosoi Garden Mortuary. Casual attire. No flowers.

Maria D. Medeiros, of Sadler, Texas, formerly of Kailua, died April 15. She is survived by sister Lola Costa; son Frank G.; daughter Frances C. Lewis; seven grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren. Services: 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl, in the gazebo.

Ronald G. Orillo, 61, of Haleiwa died April 10 at home. He was born in Waialua. He is survived by wife Florencia C.; sons Mel R. and Ronald C. Jr.; daughter Leslene F.O. Lele; mother Marcela G. Opinaldo; brother Richard; sister Julia Felix; and two grandchildren. Mass: 7 p.m. Wednesday at St. Michael's Church. Call from 6 to 9 p.m. Services: Noon Thursday at Mililani Mortuary-Waipio, makai chapel. Call after 10:30 a.m. Burial: Mililani Memorial Park. Casual attire.

Naty P. Paz, 78, of Kahului, a retired laundry attendant at the Inter Continental Hotel on Maui, died Thursday in Maui Memorial Hospital. She was also a retired jeweler in the Philippines. She was born in Ilocos Sur, the Philippines. She is survived by husband Zach; sons Zachary and Josefino; daughters Caridad-Rida Baria, Zana Cook, Joan Andia, Bles Mariveles and Demi Teano; 12 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Services: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Ballard Family Mortuary. Call from 6 to 9 p.m. Mass: 10 a.m. Wednesday at Christ the King Catholic Church. Call after 9 a.m. Burial: Maui Memorial Park. Casual attire.

Samuel B.M. Santiago, 55, of Honolulu died April 15 in Kaiser Hospital. He was born in Honolulu. He is survived by son Samuel P.; daughter Jaclyn M.; stepdaughter Kimberly A.; parents Marcelo and Alberta; sisters Marcella Masocol and Pauline Rodrigues; and brother Michael. Services: 7 p.m. Tuesday at Borthwick Mortuary. Call from 6 to 9 p.m. Inurnment: 3 p.m. Wednesday at Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery. Aloha attire.

Agnes T. Shigeta, 80, of Hawaii died Wednesday in Hilo Hospital. She was born in Hokkaido, Japan. She is survived by husband Sakai; son Dennis; daughters Janet Comfort, Elsie Perra, Doris Kogachi and Pearl Higa; brother Jitsuo Ishimoto; sisters Fumie Jyo, Hifumi Yoneda and Shirley Gushiken; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Services: 5 p.m. Tuesday at Dodo Mortuary. Call after 4 p.m. Casual attire. No flowers.

Iwakilaukapu K. Sullivan, of Honolulu, a retired real estate officer at Hickam Air Force Base, died Thursday in Honolulu. She was born in Makawao, Maui. She is survived by son Jimmy Owens; daughters Bev Spalding, Jo Owens, Cissa Kale and Kathy Cutino; brother Carl Kaumeheiwa; and sisters Louella Peterson and Lily Fraga. Memorial services: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Punahou School, Thurston Chapel. Scattering of ashes at a later date. Donations suggested to Kaimuki Christian Church Building Fund. No flowers.

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.

E-mail to City Desk

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