2007/05/06

We Will Remember You

Hawaii celebrated the life of a music legend Saturday. Don Ho, perhaps most famous for the song "Tiny Bubbles" and known locally as "Hawaii's greatest ambassador", passed away April 14th from heart failure at age 76.

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As many as twenty five thousand people came together in Waikiki to honor him. An Air Force honor guard (he was a retired Air Force pilot) presented a 21 gun salute and the traditional flag was given to his family.

At a private (but televised) ceremony on the grounds of the Sheraton Waikiki, guests included politicians, musicians and family members, all of whom where dressed in white, except for Ho's wife, Haumea, who wore a floral orange dress and a maile lei. Ho’s ashes, wrapped in ti leaves, were carried out to sea by family members, who boarded red and yellow outrigger canoes . Later, his 25 year old daughter, Hoku, who had worked with her dad in recent years, sang "I'll Remember You".

A local TV station's news helicopter dropped flowers and the Honolulu Fire Department's fire boat added a water canon salute. The Hawai'i Air National Guard even received special permission from the Pentagon to fly an F-15 Eagle fighter jet over the spot where Ho's ashes will be scattered, and tip its wing in his honor.


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Don Ho with one of his ten children, Hoku, who also became an entertainer.

I remember my mother listening to Don Ho albums back in the 60's (I listened too) and I got to see him perform live a couple of times back then. His style was not "traditional" Hawaiian, but more a mix of Hawaii with 50's and 60's style crooning. Many of the songs Don made famous were written by Kui Lee, including Tiny Bubbles, I'll Remember You, and The Days of My Youth. Don's performances were always fun, laid back, and romantic. He was wildly popular with the tourist crowd, loved by the local folks, and was a great draw for the islands. He often helped his fellow entertainers during their lean times by offering them paying gigs to open his show.

Don Ho's ancestry was Hawaiian, Chinese, Portguese, Dutch and German. I only bring that up to illustrate the beautiful ethnic rainbow that is Hawaii.

I actually had the opportunity to meet Don several years ago. I was chairing the Buddhist Education Committee for the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, and he was one of a handful of people that year to receive their "Hawaii's Living Treasures Award" for his life-long service to the community. At the time, he seemed to be rather perplexed by all the attention and the award, as if he didn't feel he had done anything special. He had always just lived the aloha spirit. I'm not sure what he would think of Saturday's events. One of his friends said, "he'd think we were crazy."


Don Ho - August 13, 1930 - April 14,2007

We will remember you.



16 comments:

nzm said...

Don's songs were popular in Fiji too, and we listened to them on records at home.

RIP to one of the great Hawaiian legends.

ladybug said...

I seem to remember there was a TV show in the 70's w/Don Ho. I used to catch it now and then. I seem to remember it was either one during the day-for the housewives-or during the Brady Bunch/Partridge Family (remembering rushing home from school to make sure we got home in time to see them??!! No VCR back in the "stone age"), so I didn't catch it much.

The folks in the audience seemed to be having alot of fun, and I always wanted to visit Hawaii because of Don Ho (although by the time I did, I spent the whole time w/my small daughter and Dad, so no Don Ho show for me).

Don Snabulus said...

Don Ho, RIP. His quest to make us feel good was more successful then anyone else I can think of.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Is that his daughter's natural hair color???!?

Yes, I remember seeing Don Ho on TV, too.

What a sad loss.

(No Imus jokes, please.)

Pandabonium said...

NZM - he was a legend, indeed.

Ladybug - yes, he had "The Don Ho Show" for about 6 months - 1976-ish
I never saw that. His audiences did always had fun - everywhere he performed.

Don - Aloha spirit for sure.

Moody - only her hairdresser knows for sure.

Martin J Frid said...

10 kids? Haha, I was born in the wrong part of the world... Thanks for introducing this artist, I'm getting the feeling there are a lot more of them out there in the Pacific, if we just open our ears.

Pandabonium said...

By the way, Moody - my #1 granddaughter has a goodly amount of Hawaiian, Portuguese and Cherokee and one might expect dark hair, but she is blond - in fact its a little reddish from one of her great grandparents. You can't always tell which genes will prevail.

Pandabonium said...

Martin - yeah, I would expect bigger families in a country where the winters are cold and long. :D

Olivia said...

Wow, I think I may have heard his Tiny Bubbles.

Intriguing mix of nationalities there. I would like to see the rest of his 10 children, I bet they are an assorted patchwork indeed!

Olivia said...

Oh, now I have read your comment to Moody about your granddaughter and I agree. The expression of forgotten dominant and recessive genes in mixed children is amazing!

Lrong said...

Have heard about Don Ho a lot while I was young...

and what a beautiful song that is...

God bless his soul...

Pandabonium said...

Olivia - funny, I was just thinking about you at the time you made this comment.

In the long view, all humanity is a potpourri, and our differentiations are pretty silly. But it is fun for a family to figure out what trait might have come from which family branch.

Lrong - thanks. The underwater shots on your blog of late are wonderful - fantastic even. (I like your self portrait too). Did you decide not to accept comments anymore? Too busy for that?

Swinebread said...

Wow, with all he did I never knew he was a pilot too.

Pandabonium said...

Swinebread - that surprised me. He did a stint in the late 50's flying transports.

Robin said...

Yep,

Impermanence..

Pandabonium said...

Robin - thanks for visiting. you are right. all we have is now.