HILO, Hawaii – Music, fellowship… and above all… a place with plenty parking. Those were the wishes of the late Senator Gil Kahele in regards to his final send-off, loved ones say, and for good reason. The parking lot of the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium was full on Monday evening as hundreds came out for the “Evening of Aloha” in honor of the Hilo senator.
The program featured a long list of state leaders who shared a deep appreciation for Kahele. Eulogies were given by Governor David Ige, Former Hawaii Island Mayor Dante Carpenter, Former Governor Neil Abercrombie, and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard presented a Congressional Record and shared her own thoughts at the podium.
Unites States Army Colonel (Retired) Ed Teixeira served as the Master of Ceremonies, Danny Kaleikini sang the Star Spangled Banner and Hawaii Ponoʻī. A pule was delivered by the reverend Danny Akaka Jr. followed by the kanikau by Kumu Hina.
The stage was also filled with Hawaii’s talented musicians: Brother Noland Conjugacion, Kuana Torres Kahele, Lito Arkangel, the Hawaiʻi Keawe Trio & Aunty Diana Aki, and others.
A few days before, Governor Ige issued this news release announcing an order to fly flags of the United States and State of Hawai‘i at half-staff in honor of Sen. Kahele:
As a mark of respect for the late Hawai’i State Senator Gilbert Kahele, Gov. David Ige has ordered the flags of the United States and State of Hawai‘i shall be flown at half-staff at all state offices and agencies, as well as the Hawai‘i National Guard, from sunrise to sunset on Monday, February 8, 2016.
“Senator Kahele was a dedicated public servant who spent the last few years working for the good of his beloved community at the Hawai‘i State Legislature. He was a respected and influential leader both in the legislature and in his hometown community of Hilo. On behalf of the people of Hawai‘i, I extend our heartfelt condolences to the Kahele ‘ohana,” said Gov. Ige.
Sen. Kahele grew up in the fishing village of Miloli‘i on Hawai‘i Island and graduated from Hilo High School. He enlisted and served in the U.S. Marines and worked for the Hawai‘i Department of Defense for more than three decades.
Kahele was appointed to the Hawai‘i State Senate in 2011 by former Gov. Neil Abercrombie. He served as chairman of the Tourism and International Affairs Committee.
Kahele worked to strengthen Hilo’s economy and was instrumental in obtaining funding to build the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. He was also a staunch supporter of the School of Aviation at Hilo International Airport.
Previously, Kahele served as chairman of the Hawai‘i County Police Commission and vice chairman of the Democratic Party for East Hawai‘i.