SPROAT BUGBEE / 1911-2004

left early job at
HPD for teaching

Thelma Bugbee: Began a program for Hawaiian studies as a way to reach out to students

Thelma Kaualulehuao'aiku Sproat Bugbee, a part-Hawaiian kupuna who was the second female police officer in the Honolulu Police Department and a retired teacher, died in Nuuanu on July 26. She was 93.

Bugbee, a native Hawaiian speaker, also co-wrote two songs, "Ka Waimea Swing," a song of her memories of the cowboys in Waimea, and "Hana no e ka 'oi," with her best friend, Irmgard 'Aluli.

Bugbee appeared in a documentary about Queen Lili'uokalani that aired on television in 1997 called "Hawaii's Last Queen."

In the documentary, Bugbee said, "If you can imagine something within your own culture that is tremendously important to you, that is suddenly done away with -- just totally ripped out and gone -- that's what we went through."

She remained active in perpetuating Hawaiian culture by joining the Hawaiian language professional organization Ahahui 'Olelo Hawaii and the Honolulu chapter of the Hale o na ali'i o Hawaii.

Bugbee was born on the Big Island in Waimea and grew up in Kohala, where she and her family spoke Hawaiian. Her family moved to Oahu, where she graduated from Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaii in social work.

Bugbee started her career as a social worker at the Palama Settlement, but in 1940, she was appointed as a police officer in the Juvenile Division, the second woman in the Honolulu Police Department. Bugbee left the department three years later because she couldn't counsel and help the children, but only could arrest them, said her daughter, L. Pua'ala Fisher.

She wanted to help people instead and became the head of the psychiatric social workers at the territorial mental hospital.

Bugbee went into teaching after substituting for a friend at Waimanalo Intermediate School, where she began the Hawaiian studies program as a way to reach out to students who had a difficult time absorbing Western learning methods, Fisher said. Bugbee retired from Kailua Intermediate School over 30 years ago.

"I will always remember Auntie Thelma for her open-arm aloha," said Hailama Farden, president of 'Ahahui 'Olelo Hawaii. "She was always concerned about you and your family in the real Hawaiian way."

She is also survived by daughter Grace Lehua Bacon, son Alvin Bugbee, brothers William and Emanuel Sproat, five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Visitation is at 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by a memorial service at 3 p.m. at the Community of Christ Church in Kaneohe. Her family requests aloha attire at the service.

Donations can be made to the University of Hawaii-Manoa Center for Oral History.



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