FRANK LOO / 1922-2002

Isle lawmaker had a
flamboyant career in politics

See also: Obituaries

By Leila Fujimori

Veteran lawmaker Frank W.C. Loo, known for his flamboyance and colorful oratory, died Sunday. He was 80.

"He was a very independent person and was not part of any bloc," Kekoa Kaapu, who served with Loo on the City Council for one term. "He decided on the merits of things and was not afraid to stand his ground. Although we disagreed on things, I very much admired his fortitude."

Loo, a Democrat, served three terms on the Council, representing the Downtown-Kalihi-Nuuanu district from 1971 to 1982.

He also served the Alewa Heights-Puunui district in the state House from 1959 to 1966, and was a delegate to the 1968 state Constitutional Convention.

Loo was often the sole dissenting vote on the Council, and considered himself a political outsider. But his vote was often wooed as the swing vote.

Probably the most publicly visible and controversial action Loo took was supporting the investigation of then-Mayor Frank Fasi in the Kukui Plaza scandal, said Kaapu.

Former House Speaker Elmer Cravalho reprimanded Loo in 1965 after he claimed credit for the state's new Uniform Commercial Code, which colleagues called grandstanding.

In 1981, Loo wrestled with a woman in a Council committee demonstration of how pepper spray could be used to ward off attackers.

Kaapu recalled that "whenever (Loo) was running for office, he always seemed to break a leg."

Loo hobbled around on crutches but could dash up the stairs as he canvassed the neighborhood, Kaapu said. Loo even used photos of himself with crutches in political ads.

Loo was defeated in 1982 when he made his fourth bid for re-election to the City Council.

Born Nov. 20, 1922 in Honolulu, Loo was the eldest of 12 children.

Upon graduation from St. Louis College in 1941, he worked as a machinist at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. During World War II he served in the Pacific as a Navy Reserve midshipman.

Later, Loo attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, where he graduated with anengineering degree. He then attended the University of Ohio for his pre-law credits and received a scholarship to Yale Law School, where he earned his law degree.

He returned to Hawaii in 1952 to practice law with the firm of Levinson & Cobb, and set up his own practice in 1953.

Loo was selected by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1956 as one of the 10 outstanding young men in America.

Gov. William Quinn appointed Loo in 1957 to the Territorial Civil Service Commission, which he left to run for the state Senate that year.

He was also president of Aloha Loan & Mortgage.

Loo was suspended in 1986 from practicing law for 18 months for failing to inform his clients on the status of their cases and for taking part of his attorney's fees from his client's no-fault insurance benefits.

Services are scheduled for Tuesday at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa at 712 N. School St., with visitation beginning at 5:30 p.m.

No flowers, but the family is accepting donations to a scholarship in Loo's honor at Saint Louis School. It will be awarded annually to a student from the Kalihi-Palama, Nuuanu, Alewa, Liliha area.

He is survived by wife Florence K.O.; sons Frank M., John and Brian; daughters Claire Loo Nakatsuka and Lianne Chan; brothers Bill, Herbert, George, Henry, Abraham and Ralph; sisters Elsie Hu and Lily, Vicky, Shirley and Janet Loo; and nine grandchildren.

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