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Saturday, December 16, 2000

A.L. Kilgo died Nov. 19. at 90.

Retailer A.L. Kilgo
‘changed this state’

More obituaries

By Mary Adamski

A.L. Kilgo was decades ahead of the megastore trend when he opened his hardware emporium on Sand Island Access Road.

Kilgo started business in 1946 selling military surplus items from a Quonset hut. Because of a freeze on civilian shipping during World War II, island residents were clamoring for construction materials, machinery and hardware.

When he retired in 1992, his warehouse business had grown to a full line of construction, hardware and gardening supplies on a 7-acre site with 135 employees.

"He was one of the first to come in and bring things in quantity, competitive with the Big Five companies," said Frank Fasi, who also started out in the surplus business and went on to be Honolulu mayor for 22 years. "He helped undo the stranglehold of the Big Five. We both helped change this state economically and socially."

Kilgo died Nov. 19 at the age of 90.

"We were friendly competitors. He became one of biggest, most profitable hardware and machinery salesmen in the whole state," said Fasi. "He was ethical and honest."

Kilgo was named 1991 Retailer of the Year by the Retail Merchants of Hawaii. He was a president of the Kalihi Business Association. He served as Republican member of the presidential Electoral College from Hawaii in 1984.

Although he and Trini, his wife of 40 years, had no children, for years they "adopted" students at Puuhale Elementary School on Halloween, bringing bags of candy for every youngster and teacher.

Kilgo's sense of humor gained news coverage in the 1950s and 1960s when his Nuuanu neighbor, Dr. Robert G. Benson, was the target of his practical jokes. One year while Benson was on a trip, Kilgo built a corrugated shack with broken windows on his front lawn. Another time, Benson returned to find an authentic Viennese beer garden laid out in the back yard.

Kilgo was born in Cullman, Ala. He revealed his given name, Aubra Laura, to a columnist once, but never used it.

He is survived by wife Trini S. and sisters Christine Mickle of Nashville, Tenn., and Ida Pauline Brown of Pensacola, Fla.

Private services were held. Memorial donations may be made to Shriners Hospital for Children.

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