Category Archives: Obituaries

Many families find themselves unable or unwilling to pay the very high fees to publish obituaries of loved ones in Honolulu’s daily newspaper. They can be published here for free. Just email your text, along with any photos you would like to include to ian(at)

You die, but life goes on…

The first telephone call I made on Thursday morning after getting the news of my sister’s death was to her son, Kimo, in California.

He had already been at work for at least a couple of hours, and I had to leave a message. He left work for the day after getting the news and called back a little later.

“She did this to me,” he said with sort of a low chuckle.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s our anniversary,” Kimo said.

I wasn’t sure what he was saying.

He went on.

“October 13. Sabrina and I were married last year on Maui. It was October 13. It’s our first anniversary.”

“Oh, no!”

“Oh, yes!” Kimo replied. “She did it! I think she waited,” laughing now. “She wanted to make sure that I would always remember her every year! And you don’t forget your anniversary.”


Friday noon.

We’re in a barren little meeting room at the Nuuanu Memorial Park and Mortuary. We’re waiting to sign the papers necessary for my sister’s cremation to move forward.

My mother’s parents–my grandparents–along with several friends and other relatives are buried next to each other in a corner of the old cemetery just across from the mortuary office.

Then a surprise.

We hadn’t gotten very far before discovering that I’m not authorized to approve the cremation. Her executor or personal representative must do that. Although I’ve been the trustee since her personal trust was created in July, she appointed her son and an old friend as her “personal representatives.” They live in different parts of California, requiring a long-distance approval process with emailed forms that need to be notarized and returned. Until that’s accomplished, what’s left of Bonnie remains on hold. It’s the first legal/bureaucratic hurdle we have to scramble over. I’m sure it won’t be the last.


The second surprise wasn’t long in coming. As we were filling out paperwork, the mortuary rep mention a change in policy by the Star-Advertiser.

The state’s largest newspaper and only daily newspaper on Oahu no longer lists surviving family members in its free obituaries. Now if you want the obit to include surviving spouse and children/grandchildren, the family has to buy a “family placed obituary.”

I don’t know what this costs, but I’m confident it’s not inexpensive.

I immediately thought of how this dramatically undermines the newspaper’s value as a source of the information found in traditional obituaries. As an investigative reporter, I’ve probably compiled backgrounds on hundreds of politicians, business people, and others that have been involved in matters I’ve dug into. Obituaries are a standard source which, for example, can help you identify an elected officials siblings and cousins, always sources of potential conflicts to keep track of. And what about future family genealogists? Their explorations just got harder as well.

And, for the record: Bonnie Pauahi Stevens is survived by a brother, Ian Lind, and a sister, Jacqueline Chappel, both of Honolulu; son, James P. Lamont of Manteca, California; daughter, Christina Kemp of Seattle, and seven grandchildren.

An early morning Aloha to my sister

My sister, Bonnie Pauahi Stevens, passed away quietly this morning at her apartment in Honolulu. It was just a few minutes after dawn. She was 73.

She had been diagnosed with an advanced cancer this summer, and decided not to pursue aggressive treatment.

Bonnie was born in Honolulu, graduated from University High School, and the graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She lived most of her adult life in Groveland, California, a small town near the northern entrance to Yosemite.

She retired a decade ago as a training officer for the City of San Francisco at Hetch Hetchy Dam, not too far from Groveland.

She returned to Hawaii after her beloved husband, Ray Stevens, passed away in 2007. She only recently steppped down as Historian for the Daughters of Hawaii.

She is survived by two children, both living on the west coast, a close friend she called her hanai daughter, seven grandchildren, and close friends who will miss her dearly.

Remembering Raymond Pae Galdeira, Sr.

Raymond Pae Galdeira, Sr., passed away on Saturday, May 23, 2015, according to an email I received from one of his grandchildren. He had been living in Las Vegas for several years.

Galdeira was a key figure in The Hawaiians, a civil rights and Hawaiian advocacy group that played a key role in the growth of Hawaiian social and political activism beginning in the late 1960s and through most of the 1970s.

It was Galdeira and The Hawaiians who backed Big Island rancher Sonny Kaniho’s civil disobedience against leasing policies of the Hawaiian Homes Commission in May 1974.

It was two years before the first protest landing on Kahoolawe. George Ariyoshi was serving as governor but would not face election until later in the year. Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians were becoming increasing restive and politically active, with long-term problems of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands becoming key issues for many.

Kaniho’s protest, backed by The Hawaiians, was part of the organization’s broader campaign to reform the commission.

These photographs were taken early on May 18, 1974, as Kaniho and supporters prepared for their protest. In the top photo, Galdeira is at the center, with the white shoes, explaining the plan for the landmark protest. Later that morning, the group moved up to a pasture in Waimea. Under the watchful eyes of employee’s of Larry Mehau’s Hawaiian Protective Association, the group removed a gate and entered the pasture, later driving up to a higher elevation.

Pae Galdeira in white shoes

And Galdeira smiles broadly in the bottom photo as arresting officer Leningrad Elarionoff, who later served on the Hawaii County Council, explains the situation. He took our names and identifying information, and we were later served with summonses to appear in district court in Waimea on trespassing charges.


The efforts of Galdeira and The Hawaiians eventually led then Gov. Ariyoshi to appoint of one of their own, Georgiana Padeken, as director of the department and chair of the commission. The move was seen by many as a turning point in the commission’s history.

In a statement while a candidate for OHA trustee in 2002, the late Darrow Aiona recalled this period:

During the early years of the Hawaiian Renaissance I was deeply involved with my active brothers and sisters Francis Kauhane, the late Georgiana Padeken, Pae Galdeira, Gard Kealoha, Doug Ng, Alvina Park and others as we challenged the Hawaiian Homes Commission to put more lessees on Hawaiian Home lands, even if the lands were not developed. Our activism is seen as having some bearing upon the eventual establishment of OHA.

Galdeira, Kaniho and others involved in The Hawaiians also founded the Hawaiian Coalition of Native Claims, which later became the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation. Identified in a resolution adopted by the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs in 2003 as founders were Randy and Mel Kalahiki, Gail Kawaipuna Prejean, Roy Ula Kawelo, Steve Morse, Winona Rubin, Georgiana Padeken, Darrow Aiona, Alvina Park, Irene DuPont, Pae Galdeira, Sonny Kaniho, and Roland Mahiai.

If you’re a long time reader, some of this might look familiar to you. That’s because back in 2006, I noticed the obituary of Earl Pae Galdeira, and thought he was Pae Galdeira of the Hawaiians. I was relieved at the time to find out that it was his brother, but it provided an opportunity to look back.

And now, with Pae Galdeira’s passing, I’m doing it all again.

See also:

Sonny Kaniho claims homestead land in Waimea (Photographs)

Trial in Waimea: August 13, 1974 (Sonny Kaniho & Friends)

Margaret Renton Chesney, 1923-2014

We were notified on Friday morning that Meda’s mother, Margaret Renton Chesney, had passed away early that day in the facility where she had been cared for over the past several years. Meda and her sisters decided to share this remembrance via our blogs, Facebook pages, etc. in lieu of a paid obituary.

Margaret Renton Chesney

Margaret (Margo) Renton Chesney, passed away peacefully at age 90 with her family at her side on Friday, February 7, 2014 in Belmont, California.

Margo was born on June 4, 1923 in Honolulu, Hawaii to parents James Lewis Renton and Meda Menardi Renton. She spent her early years at Ewa Plantation, where her father worked as chief engineer and, later, mill superintendent. Her grandfather, George F. Renton Sr., served as manager of Ewa Plantation from 1898 to 1920, and was succeeded by her uncle, George F. Renton Jr., who was manager from 1920 to 1937.

Chesney and her family moved to the “mainland” in 1931 and settled in Portland, Oregon.

Margo attended high school at St. Helen’s Hall in Portland, Oregon, where she graduated in 1940, a year ahead of her class. To pursue her passion for both math and music, she traveled east for college and musical studies, selected Goucher College in Baltimore, MD., in part because of its proximity to the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

In 1944, she graduated with majors in Physics, Math, and Music. She met Robert William Chesney, a student at Johns Hopkins University, in a physics class that was offered to the women students at Goucher. After their graduation, they married and moved to Oklahoma, where Bob landed a job as a geologist in the oil fields around Woodward.

In 1947, the couple had their first child, a daughter, Meda.

Chesney in 1947Less than three months later, a tornado–still ranked as one of the most damaging in Oklahona history–swept through Woodward. The Chesney’s home was destroyed. Mother and child were initially caught in the rubble, but were able to escape and were rescued. [Photo: Margaret Chesney and daughter, Meda, in early 1947. More background on her experience of the Woodward tornado is available.]

With the terror of the tornado fresh in their minds, the family left Oklahoma and moved back to Baltimore. They had three more children, Margaret Ann, Robert Lloyd, and Anna Mae.

The couple divorced and Margo moved back to Portland, Oregon in 1962 with the children. She taught math briefly in the public schools and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Counseling. She wove together her love of math and psychology working as a math teacher and counselor in high schools in Portland and Vancouver, Washington. Later she served as a Career Counselor for Washington State.

She maintained her love of music, first directing the junior church choir at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Ruxton, Maryland and another in Portland. She also enjoyed making beautiful embroidered pieces, needlepoint and weaving. She donated her works to the church and gave beautiful gifts to family and friends. She always had a strong commitment to social justice, and worked to find affordable housing for the needy in Baltimore, counseled men about resisting the draft during the Vietnam War in Portland. In 1990, she was named Unitarian of the Year for her “outstanding support and dedication” and her many contributions to the First Unitarian Church of Portland, including service on many committees and as editor of the church newsletter.

Margo moved to the Bay Area in 1993 where she continued to spend time with family and friends while living in San Mateo, Burlingame and Belmont.

Margo is survived by her daughter Meda Chesney-Lind and her husband Ian Lind of Honolulu, Hawaii; daughter Margaret Chesney Anderson and her husband David Anderson of Menlo Park, California; son Robert Lloyd Chesney and his partner Thinh Jones of Portland, Oregon; and daughter Mae Chesney and her partner Peter Rothblatt of San Francisco, California. Margo is also survived by granddaughter Crystal Chesney Thompson and her husband Derek Thompson; grandson Brian Chesney; and great-granddaughter Kaelyn Thompson. She was preceded in death by her loving brother, James Menardi Renton in 2012.

We’ve been blessed to have this amazing woman as our mother, friend and confidant. She met life’s challenges and loved life’s gifts in ways that inspire us to do the same. May she rest in peace.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that those who cared for Margo, spend some more time with those they love.