(ABOVE VIDEO) Big Island Video News remembers Bob Herkes, through our video coverage from the last five years of his life as a public servant.
Video by Dave Corrigan, Voice of Sherry Bracken
HAWAII ISLAND – Robert Herkes, a long time local politician and hospitality hall of famer, died last week at the age of 83.
In life, Herkes was a colorful speaker, and pulled no punches when it came to serving the people.
Herkes was raised in Hilo, and became a U.S. Army Veteran. Decades ago, he worked as a hospitality industry executive: at places like the Kona Surf Hotel, the Naniloa in Hilo, and Coconut Island Resort.
As a public servant – serving on the Hawaii County Council as far back as 1984, and also for a short stint as State Senator followed by a long career as a representative – Herkes championed many causes for Hawaii Island’s rural population.
In the video above, we recall some of the accomplishments most meaningful to Herkes during his career as an elected official – told in his own, sometimes cantankerous words.
Hawaii’s political leadership expressed words of sympathy in various statements issued to the media.
We extend our condolences to the family, many friends and all the people Bob Herkes steadfastly served as a Hawai`i County Council member and Hawai`i State legislator. Bob was a plain spoken leader who was simultaneously business and community minded. His colleagues always sought his opinion because he was smart, balanced and valued the facts. The more I got to know him, the more I understood his compassion for people most in need and his deep love for our island home. Bob brought a broad talent to public service and he will be missed.”U.S. Senator Brian Schatz
A former state representative, state senator, Hawaii County Council member and local businessman, Bob had a solid record of getting things done for the people of Hawaii. His long career in public service brought about countless benefits for Hawaii Island, including his integral role in incorporating the appropriation for the first FEMA-certified shelter in Kau, providing a drinking water system for Ocean View, and establishing a mobile medical van to bring basic medical services to rural areas.
“His fierce dedication to the people of the Big Island and our entire state will be remembered. Our thoughts and aloha are with his wife, Jo-Anna; sons, Bob, Ken and Dough; and the rest of the Herkes ohana.”Governor Neil Abercrombie
Hawaii has lost a dedicated and passionate public servant who championed protecting consumer rights during his 18 years in the State House of Representatives. Bob worked tirelessly to pass legislation that strengthened the rights of residents in mortgage foreclosures. He was an early and strong advocate of natural disaster preparedness and was one of the first to call attention to the health effects of vog. He was a good legislator, highly respected by his colleagues and a great friend. I will miss him.
On behalf of the House of Representatives I would like to offer our condolences to his wife Jo-Anna and his sons Bobby, Kenny and Doug.”House Speaker Joseph Souki
Ross Wilson provided us with the list of professional accomplishments that were most meaningful to Herkes. The video above touches on a number of these items:
• Created legislation to eliminate telephone party lines on the Big Island (more than 5,000 at the time legislation introduced)
• Funding for the Ocean View well
• Bringing the first medical van to service the Ka’u District
• Creating legislation to preserve areas in the Ka’u District
• Establishing a Disaster Shelter in Ka’u
• Legislation to reduce insurance rates and bring relief for homeowners facing foreclosure
• Responsible for relocating Ironman from Oahu to Kona
• Founding the Hawaii Hospitality Hall of Fame
• Consumer advocacy
• U.S. Army Veteran
• Lengthy list of affiliations with community service and professional organizations
Herkes is survived by his wife Jo-Anna, sons Bobby, Ken, Doug, granddaughter Sara, brother John Herkes and sister Jana Herkes. Services will be held at Dodo Mortuary on Saturday September 27, 2014. The Governor said he intends to order flags to half-staff on the day of services.