Gilbert Kahele was a 1989 recipient of RCAC’s Yoneo Ono Award. The award honors rural people who have made significant lifelong contributions to their community in volunteer capacities. His partial obituary below is from The Virginian-Pilot, powered by


HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii state Sen. Gilbert Kahele, who represented parts of the Big Island, has died.

Mr. Kahele, 73, died Tuesday morning surrounded by family at Queens Medical Center on Oahu, according to Jill Kuramoto, spokeswoman for the Senate majority.

Kahele, who represented South Hilo on the Big Island, was appointed to the state Senate in 2011 by former Gov. Neil Abercrombie and then elected in 2012.

“The Hilo community and the state of Hawaii today has lost a great Senator, a gentleman, and passionate advocate who cared deeply about public service and the people he represented,” said Senate President Ronald Kouchi. “I am honored to have served with him and I know his fellow colleagues in the Senate feel the same.”

Sentiments from fellow lawmakers and politicians poured in about Kahele’s character, showing the impact he made during his years of service.

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