Saddened by the passing of Charles Maxwell, I couldn't help but think back to 2008 when I had the privilege of writing three "Voices of Maui" columns for Lahaina News. Sitting amid the graves of his ancestors, Uncle Charlie told me revealing things he said he had never told anyone before.
Like he could barely understand English when he went to school and one year had 500 detentions.
Like the 8th-grade teacher who told him, considering his academics, "If I was you, I would marry a smart girl." Uncle followed through at 17, marrying Nina - a Baldwin High cheerleader, class valedictorian and later legendary kumu hula even though he had no way to support her. The marriage lasted one month short of 50 years with the passing of Nina in 2006.
As a police officer, Charlie couldn't spell or type. Nina would type his reports until police learned he couldn't do his own; he got three months to learn or "he was out." Nina turned him into a speedy typist.
Reading about Queen Lili'uokalani, Charles decided to become an educated activist and his turnaround was nothing short of miraculous.
Three long columns reviewed this cultural icon's many exploits, always worthy, sometimes controversial.
Charlie even made it all the way to the White House, pounding the table telling several U.S. senators there he doubted many of them knew Native Hawaiians existed.
Rest in peace, Charlie. You were an inspiration to us all.