Monday, December 24, 2001

Homeless Maui man ends up
being a $68,000 Good Samaritan

The well-known surfer returns
savings bonds that he found tucked
away in a library book

By Gary T. Kubota

MAKAWAO, Maui >> A homeless man gave back $68,000 in savings bonds he found tucked in a book at the Makawao Public Library.

The savings bonds belonged to a Haiku woman in her 70s who had left them in an envelope tucked in the book.

"If I had used that money, I would be bothered by what would happen to the person who lost the money," said Paul Gebauer, 61, a well-known surfer. "I wouldn't be able to sleep at night."

Gebauer saw the name of the woman on the bonds and found her telephone number in a local directory.

Makawao branch manager Carla Mauri said she learned about the incident a few weeks ago, after receiving a call from police officer Kris Dixon, who informed her of the good deed. Mauri called a local newspaper to see if they were interested in doing a story about Gebauer.

"It's good to let people know," Mauri said. "It was an unusual occurrence. It's a big amount of money."

Gebauer, who was a well-known surfer in the early 1960s, said his decision to return the money was consistent with his simple, quiet lifestyle and enjoyment of nature more than money.

"I never went for the money, and I never went for the fame," he said.

Gebauer said he saw a book in the library entitled "From the Third World to the First, the Singapore Story: 1965-2000" and took it to a table. He then found the envelope in the book.

Gebauer said in the envelope, he saw a U.S. savings bond worth $10,000, then noticed there were several more bonds issued to the Haiku woman. He returned the savings bonds to a person who knew the woman, then called Dixon to follow up.

Gebauer said the woman, who apparently suffers from memory lapses, had not realized the bonds were missing. Police and Gebauer have asked not to disclose the name of the woman.

A number of people recall Gebauer appearing in surfing magazines. Gebauer said he moved to Maui in the 1960s to dive for black coral off Lahaina.

He enjoyed surfing at Maui sites, including Honolua Bay in the winter, where there were few people riding waves.

Gebauer, who lives in a tent on the outskirts of Makawao town, has had his share of bad luck. He has had to undergo removal of a cancerous growth on his face and a skin graft that put a strain on his ability to find work in landscaping and construction.

His two guitars were stolen recently.

The elderly woman who recovered her bonds gave him $100 as a reward. A Makawao woman who heard about the theft of his belongings gave him one of her guitars.

Gebauer said the only thing he misses in being homeless is the hot water, but otherwise, he enjoys meditating and living with nature.

"I think I'm pretty rich," he said. "I have a lot of peace of mind."

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