If you measure your worth in how much Aloha you put out to the world in your lifetime, then Hawaii’s Don Ho reached the stratosphere over and over again. The Hawaiian singer/entertainer (and forever one of the islands’ favorite sons) passed away from heart failure recently at the age of 76. His memorial celebration was on the beach at Waikiki and his ashes were scattered outside of Queens reef.
Duke Kahanamoku’s smiling statue overlooking Don’s final resting place—drew thousands of locals, international fans of all age, and surfers from all shores. It felt like the entire world had paddled out for the evening’s tribute. Literally, a flotilla of outrigger canoes, surfers on all length boards, along with vessels, and a fire boat (thanks Russell), gathered in the waters of Malama Bay (Waikiki), providing the fitting and classic Hawaiian style send-off for its loved one. Onlookers packed the heart of Waikiki’s Kalakaua Avenue, watching in reverence, respect, and tears as Ho’s family members paid their last respects to Don amidst the shallow and blue waters of the South Pacific.
“If you measure your worth in how much Aloha you put out to the world in your lifetime, then Hawaii’s Don Ho reached the stratosphere over and over again”
Hawaiian music played along the shore, the harbor fireboat cranked its water cannons, throwing up and out a hula-like sway of liquid plumes that seemingly reached the heights of Diamond Head. Then, everyone slowly made their way back to the shore and settled in along the sand and grass at Queens Beach for an evening of Hawaiian song and dance. If you were there, you were an extended member of Don Ho’s family, sharing in the spirit of the moment—you sang along to the music, moved to the rhythms, and felt the pulse of the surf only yards away.
Along with so many other great leaders who have left us: the Duke in ’68, Eddie Aikau in ’78, “Queen” Rell Sunn in ’98, and countless beach boys, entertainers, and island guardians—Don Ho will forever be immortalized by his music and the way he entertained the visiting world to Hawaii for the past 50 years. His love and the open-heart attitude he shared with everyone he met as well as the Aloha spirit that he so much stylized for all those who have come to the islands will continue for generations and beyond.