County says farewell to Mauians, community heroes

In 2012, Maui County lost current and former island residents, including Hawaiian cultural leaders and musicians, a popular journalist along with a famous restaurateur and community heroes.

Here are the Mauians’ stories and accomplishments:

Kahu Charles ‘Uncle Charlie’ Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr.

May 14, 1937-March 15, 2012

The longtime Native Hawaiian leader, kahu (minister) and police officer was known for his activism and cultural knowledge as well as his engaging personality and sense of humor.

In the 1970s, he was among the leaders of the protests over the military bombing of Kahoolawe. He proposed and spent a year planning the occupation of the island on Jan. 4, 1976, when he and dozens of others set out in boats from Maalaea Harbor. When a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter hovered overhead and warned that those who landed on Kahoolawe would have their vessels confiscated, Maxwell and most others decided to return to Maui, while nine people continued on.

The movement led to the return and partial cleanup of the island.

In the 1980s, Maxwell helped lead the opposition to the exhumation of Native Hawaiian burials at the building site of The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.

Work eventually stopped, the exhumed remains were returned and the burial site preserved after the developers agreed to move the hotel farther mauka.

Maxwell always made sure that the Hawaiian point of view was taken into consideration and voiced his opinions at community meetings and before politicians and had served as a cultural consultant for many, including the Maui Ocean Center.

Maxwell also served on the Maui/Lanai Islands Burial Council.

He and his late wife, Nina, operated the Pukalani Hula Halau, and he also served as a member of the Hawaii advisory group to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

Chad Michael Morimoto

July 28, 1972-July 23, 2012

The former Lahaina resident grew up on Maui and attended King Kamehameha III Elementary, Lahaina Intermediate and Lahainaluna High School before moving to Oahu and graduating from high school there.

He later became a Honolulu police officer. He died while participating in motorcycle escort training near Mililani District Park on Oahu when his motorcycle slid out from under him and he hit a curb.

Morimoto had been a Honolulu Police Department officer for eight years and became a motorcycle officer in 2010.

Friends and classmates from Lahainaluna remember him as fun-loving and well-liked.

He was also active in the Mormon Church on Oahu, friends said.

Bob Longhi

March 19, 1933-July 30, 2012

The founder and owner of the iconic Front Street establishment Longhi’s had a full life, which included a drive to Hana with the Beatles’ George Harrison and owning a piece of a professional basketball team.

But his family said that his lifelong dream was opening a restaurant, which he did. After the Lahaina restaurant, he also opened others, including Longhi’s Wailea and Longhi’s Ala Moana on Oahu.

Longhi created all of the recipes for the restaurant himself, such as Italian specialties linguine with clams, lobster Longhi and tiramisu.

Celebrities would frequent Longhi’s, from winemaker Robert Mondavi to Hall of Fame basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

He was also part-owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

People remember him as a person who would engage in conversation with everyone from his busboys to all of his customers.

Phyllis Shaddick McOmber

Dec. 30, 1937-Aug. 9, 2012

The Lanai resident, who battled cancer for more than 30 years, continued to help community members through their problems even though she didn’t feel well herself.

McOmber’s long list of accomplishments during her lifetime included helping start a community health center on Lanai and working with others to establish a preschool on Lanai.

She received many honors, including the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association’s Charity Walk Inspiration Award for going “above and beyond” and best exemplifying “the true spirit of giving.”

A donation of $5,000 in her name was awarded to the Lanai Community Health Center.

She was a former professor of home economics at the University of Hawaii and had been active in the Lanai Baptist Church.

McOmber had battled breast, colon and brain cancers.

She was also a friend and counselor to others who battled cancer themselves.

Edwin Isao Tanji

Nov. 8, 1946-Sept. 12, 2012

The former Maui News city editor, Honolulu Advertiser Maui County bureau chief and Advertiser Neighbor Islands editor spent more than 40 years in journalism in Hawaii.

The Vietnam veteran was among the first reporters to write about the Protect Kaho’olawe Ohana and the movement to stop military bombing of Kahoolawe.

One of the stories that he was most pleased with, he said, was one he did about Hulopoe Bay on Lanai. He said that boat operators in the bay claimed they had not been dumping sewage in the area, but Tanji, along with government officials, took it up on themselves to check it out. They went into the water to investigate.

Tanji said they looked around and found human waste and remnants of toilet paper.

Reports of the pollution changed how Hulopoe Bay was regulated.

At the time of his retirement, Tanji said that his most rewarding experience as city editor was working with young reporters and watching them succeed.

Tanji enjoyed the outdoors and liked to hike into Haleakala Crater and camp with his family in Kipahulu. At one point, he rode a motorcycle and was known to sport long hair and wear a bandanna.

Anthony Natividad

Jan. 17, 1964-Oct. 28, 2012

The Lahaina resident played nose flutes and could build them out of anything, such as a soda can, PVC and bamboo, family members said.

Natividad taught and held workshops at the University of Hawaii Maui College Institute of Hawaiian Music. The program is helping produce the next generation of Hawaiian musicians.

He was an original cast member of he landmark “Ulalena” show that opened in 1999.

His family said that he was an innovative musician, instrument and stone craftsman and sound healer.

Natividad had learned many styles of world music and spiritual practice and loved the ocean.

Damiana Bareng Juan

Sept. 22, 1905-Nov. 8, 2012

At 107, Juan may have been Maui’s oldest living person until her death in November.

In an interview with The Maui News a couple of months before she died, the former clothes washer attributed her long life to her belief in God and her Catholic faith.

One of her daughters said that when Juan lived in the Philippines she would go house to house to pray and that she was able to memorize hours of Catholic prayers.

She was also known to have a sixth sense when it came to babies and knew if a baby was in distress.

She could also help people find their missing animals and belongings.

Juan was born in the Philippines and, in 1947, her husband died, leaving her with four children to take care of. Juan washed people’s clothes because there were no washing machines at that time.

In 1975, Juan, at age 70, moved to Maui to be with her children.

Her family said that Juan didn’t take any medication and had no signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Chris Hart

May 4, 1941-Nov. 12, 2012

The landscape architect and planner was the founder of Chris Hart & Partners Inc. in Wailuku and had headed two Maui County departments after joining the county’s staff in 1970.

He rose from staff planner for the Department of Planning in 1970 to deputy planning director in 1980. He was involved with the establishment of the Maui County Urban Design Review Board and with the administration of urban design standards and the Maui Historic Commission.

From 1984 to 1986, he was director of the county Department of Human Concerns, where he helped develop affordable housing and oversaw the expansion of the Kaunoa Senior Center.

From 1986 to 1991, he was director of the Department of Planning, overseeing the update of the 1990 General Plan, formulation of the Wailuku redevelopment plan update, country-town design guidelines for the Paia-Haiku region and the establishment of the Maui County Cultural Resources Commission.

In 2010, Hart was among 11 candidates to run for the Mayor’s Office, but he did not advance beyond the primary election.

For a while, Hart also had a business venture, Dad’s Donut Shop, in Wailuku.

He was an active member of various community organizations.

David Merritt Peters

Aug. 6, 1923-Nov. 25, 2012

Peters was the first person from Maui to be appointed to the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and was heavily involved in Native Hawaiian and community organizations.

A former trustee for the Queen Lili’uokalani trust, Peters is credited for helping to create and expand the Queen Lili’uoklani Children’s Center on Maui. The facility in the Wailuku Millyard was dedicated to Peters in 2008.

Regarding the dedication, he had said that he tried to do his best for all the people of Hawaii.

The Queen Lili’uokalani Trust was established by the queen, with its mission to serve Hawaii’s orphans and destitute children with preference given to pure or part-Hawaiian children.

Peters, who was born on Oahu, spent his early years on Maui.

He went on to serve a 30-year Army career, where he received many accolades for his military service and retired in 1976 as a colonel.

He then went on to be an executive assistant to the late Sen. Daniel Inouye for 14 years and headed Inouye’s Honolulu office.

He served with many Native Hawaiian organizations as well as community groups.

Jose Krall

June 7, 1961-Dec. 1, 2012

Krall was the pastry chef and owner of Maui Bake Shop & Deli in Wailuku, who kept his customers happy with his French baked goods, including his breads, strawberry shortcake and macaroons. The restaurant also had sandwiches and salads and did beef Wellington and other specialty items for lunch and parties, a family member said.

In addition to working in kitchens from Switzerland to Belgium, he also worked all over the United States and learned how to speak English along the way, family members said.

A “passionate” pilot, Krall apparently died after his four-seater Cessna 172 disappeared from radar after departing from Kahului Airport en route to Molokai on Dec. 1, aviation officials said.

Edward Kaonohi Pu

Nov. 25, 1929-Dec. 7, 2012

Pu was one of the first Haleakala National Park rangers to serve in Kipahulu and even jumped into the ocean off Oheo to save a Saudi ambassador, his wife and their son who had been washed out to sea by a flash flood.

For his heroism, he was honored personally by President Gerald Ford.

He was known for his annual solitary treks around the island.

Pu joined the park service in Kipahulu in 1972 – one of the first rangers in the district – after 21 years as a lifeguard at Hamoa Beach.

He retired from the park in 1999.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at