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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Saturday, November 4, 2000

Kelvin Wong
was a true fan for
all seasons

THEY held a celebration of life yesterday afternoon at the Ala Wai Golf Course clubhouse. It was hosted by the family of the late Kelvin Wong, who was buried at Diamond Head Memorial Park hours earlier.

Wong was a familiar figure at Ala Wai, where his Tasty Foods Company ran the concessions, as well as at Makalena, West Loch and Ewa Villages.

MUG SHOT An avid golfer, Wong loved playing Ala Wai. He also was someone with a keen sense of humor. Why, he probably would have wished that Ben Cayetano had been invited, even if the governor wants to shut down the golf course. He was the kind of guy who never spoke or thought ill of anyone.

His family remembers him as a loving father. Kelvin's wife, Peace, daughters Kelli McCabe and Brenda Yim, and his granddaughter, Amber Yim, danced a touching farewell hula to "I'll Remember You" at his funeral services at Sacred Heart Church that morning.

Friends knew him as an astute businessmen and someone who they could rely on.

I remember Kelvin, not only as a friend and fellow golfer, but as one of Hawaii's most ardent sports fans.

It's no wonder that former Punahou coach Dave Eldredge and Eddie Hamada, one-time Iolani athletic director and football coach, gave eulogies in behalf of the family. Or that Hawaii Pacific University's Tony Sellitto was a pall bearer, along with Hamada.

Wong, who died Oct. 22 at the age of 68, got fully involved with sports when he operated the concessions at the old Civic Auditorium and, later, the Honolulu International Center, now the Blaisdell Center.

Roller derby, wrestling, boxing, he loved them all. But he was most passionate about football, whether it was high school, college or the National Football League.

Pro Bowls? Except for this year, he saw them all since the NFL held its first Pro Bowl here in 1980. Peace danced with the House of I halau during the Pro Bowl halftime shows. Kelvin also went to nine Super Bowls and four Final Fours with his wife.

WONG went to three Rose Bowls because Southern California, his adopted team, was playing. Both of his sons, Michael and Ronald, graduated from USC.

Michael was a student manager for the Trojans' football team that won two national championships, and he has rings to show for it.

The Wongs were a Pac-10 family, with the sons attending USC while Kelli went to Stanford and Brenda to UCLA.

When the Trojans played Hawaii here in 1978, Wong hired a huge lunch wagon for an Aloha Stadium tailgate for a party of 100 family and friends. Especially Trojan fans.

During Super Bowl XXVI in Minneapolis, he saw heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield dancing with his wife at a private party hosted by Coca-Cola. They were the only two on the dance floor.

Wong dragged daughter Kelli to the floor and began dancing, too. Before long, he tapped Holyfield on the shoulder, asking to cut in and dance with his wife. "He did it so that I could dance with Evander Holyfield," recalled Kelli.

When she was at Stanford, her parents took her to Super Bowl XIX between the 49ers and Dolphins. "He had the best seats at every sporting event," she said.

Knowing Kelvin, nothing has really changed. I'm sure he will still have the best seat in the house -- in his new home.

Bill Kwon has been writing about
sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

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