Sunday, January 20, 2002


Co-founder of first
Hawaii escrow company
dies at 90

Kauai saimin icon Aiko Hamura
More obituaries

Star-Bulletin staff

Lewis "Lew" Trask Sterry, an attorney who represented developer Henry Kaiser and was instrumental in helping to form the first escrow company in Hawaii, died Jan. 12 at his home in Kailua-Kona.

Sterry, 90, was born in Los Angeles. He received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University and graduated from Yale Law School in 1935.

In World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy as assistant operations officer on the staff of Admiral William Calhoun and received the Bronze Star. After the war, he returned to Los Angeles as a trial lawyer until moving to Honolulu in 1947.

"He loved the ocean. That's why he moved over here, I think," said daughter Joanne Wong.

While waiting to become a member of the Hawaii Bar, Sterry worked in the Land Department of Castle & Cooke until 1952. He practiced law with Lewis, Buck & Sanders and then Crumpets & Sterry, before forming a partnership with Stanley Mah in Honolulu.

While Sterry was serving as Hawaiian attorney for Henry J. Kaiser, he and David Peitsch helped form Title Guaranty Escrow Services.

Sterry moved to Kona in 1969 and formed the firm of Sterry, Mah & Gallup, which later became Sterry, Gallup & Van Pernis. He retired from active practice in 1979.

Sterry was an active waterman who raced in the Trans-Pac Yacht Races and also designed and built his own trimaran, the Kamanu Leilei.

He helped with the committee responsible for the creation of Honokohau Harbor, served as president of the Hawaii International Billfish Association, served on the board of governors of the Pacific Ocean Research Foundation and was a member of the Waikiki Yacht Club and Kona Yacht Club.

"Almost anything involved in the ocean, he was very involved in," said companion Tru Odman.

Sterry was a member of the Kona Outdoor Circle and Kona Historical Society and served on the boards of directors of the Kona Adult Day Care Center, Kona Alzheimer's Association and CrimeStoppers.

Sterry is also survived by son Norman V. "Chip," two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His ashes were scattered at sea. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations may be made to a favorite local charity. Dodo Mortuary Kona Branch is handling local arrangements.

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