Friday, June 22, 2001


Life was spent as
public servant

See Also: Obituaries

By Pat Omandam

Abraham Aiona, former Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee and a retired Maui County police chief, died yesterday in Waimanalo.

Aiona, 75, was elected to OHA in 1990 along with current trustees Clayton Hee and Rowena Akana. He retired in May 1998 as board vice-chairman.

"Abe Aiona came from the old school, and when first he got on the board, he was used to doing it by the book and by command," Akana said.

"He has contributed very much to the Hawaiian community and the general public. He will be sorely missed," she said.

Aiona's career in community service spanned nearly 50 years. His rose through the ranks of the Maui Police Department to become one of Hawaii's first native Hawaiian police chiefs in the 1970s.

He began his political career on the Maui County Council in 1977, where he served for nine years before turning his focus toward a seat on the OHA board.

"I am proud of what we have accomplished," Aiona said in 1998 when he retired from OHA. "It has been very rewarding and challenging."

He was a former president of the Hawaii State Association of Counties and past director of the Maui Chamber of Commerce. Aiona was named 1968 Policeman of the Year by Maui County.

Aiona was at his son's home in Waimanalo yesterday. He had breakfast, and then fell asleep while waiting for his care giver. He died in his sleep.

Hee said he admired Aiona for his dedication to his work and was a tireless public servant. Aiona treated everyone with honesty and dignity, he said.

As a trustee, Aiona was instrumental in growing OHA's investment portfolio from $19 million in 1990 to more than $300 million today.

"He was something else," added Hee, who was asked to give the eulogy at his funeral.

Services are pending.

Aiona is survived by sons, Abraham Jr., Jeffrey, George and Lenny; stepson Rodney Katayama; hanai daughter Dr. Ellen Kerringer, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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