Former Hawaii Congressman Cec Heftel dies - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Former Hawaii Congressman Cec Heftel dies

Bob Sevey Bob Sevey
Linda Coble Linda Coble

By Terry Hunter

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Cecil Lendau Heftel was born in Chicago, September 30, 1924. His legacy in Hawaii began in the 60s when he started Heftel Broadcasting taking over KGMB. Before corporations took over the great majority of TV stations, Cec Heftel was a rare kind of owner. His biggest move was one of his first. He hired Bob Sevey as news director and anchor and gave him full run of the newsroom.

"It was obvious he had all the ability, all of the skills, the warmth, the relaxed attitude about everything," Heftel said.

Within five months sevey's news was number one in the state

"I'm very indebted to Cec. The eleven years I worked for him were far and away the best broadcast years of my life," Sevey said.

"He was a champion but he didn't meddle. I remember his sitting in the office and not walking through the newsroom all the time. He stayed out of it," former KGMB anchor Linda Coble said.

After his success as a businessman in radio and TV, Heftel ran for congress and won five successive terms from 1976 to 1986. Because he'd promised a local newspaper editor that he'd quit if he got into a major political office, he sold the station in 1977, a move both he and his employees later regretted.

"That was a very huge mistake on my part, and I do regret it because today I'd still own the station. I wouldn't be active running it, but I'd be a part of it," Heftel said.

He resigned from congress in 1986 to run for governor. He hired Sevey, again, this time as his spokesperson and was ahead of then Lieutenant Governor John Waihee in all the polls. But a vicious smear campaign spread lies about Heftel, and he lost the primary.

"An anonymous source described me as having engaged in illegal and repulsive acts. No evidence, no basis in fact," Heftel said.

"I was shocked when the smear happened. It was sickening," Coble said.

Heftel moved away getting back into the business of broadcasting on the mainland until in 2004 at the age of 80, he entered politics again, winning a seat on the Board of Education. Heftel's last television interview was in 2009 when his friend and colleague Bob Sevey passed away of cancer.

"Another era has passed with Bob going. It's frightening, because I know how close I must be. I don't know when it'll happen. And I wasn't that much older than Sevey, and you just don't know, but you know it's comin' baby," Heftel said.

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