Leaders react to the passing of Cec Heftel - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Leaders react to the passing of Cec Heftel

Gov. Linda Lingle Gov. Linda Lingle
Mayor Mufi Hannemann Mayor Mufi Hannemann
Rep. Neil Abercrombie Rep. Neil Abercrombie
Rep. Mazie Hirono Rep. Mazie Hirono

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hawaii's leaders react to the passing of Cec Heftel.

I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of another of Hawaii's great public servants, Cecil Heftel.

His personal commitment to making Hawaii a better place went far beyond politics. Cec was a prolific media entrepreneur, owning at one time several radio and TV stations across the country, including KGMB. Most of all, he had a deep sense of service. In 1943, he left his business to serve three years in the Army during WWII. Like so many Americans answering the call of duty today, Cec was willing to put his life on the line to defend freedom and democracy at home and abroad.

"During his impressive political career, which began in 1977, Heftel made great contributions to his state and nation. He was recognized as a community leader, always finding a way to give of his time, especially in the field of education.

We are grateful for Cecil Heftel's years of service, and extend on behalf of the people of Hawaii our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy to his entire family.

- Governor Linda Lingle

"Hawaii has lost another influential leader in the passing of Cec Heftel.

"Cec was a major force in the growth of television and radio broadcasting in the Hawaiian Islands. He led KGMB TV to a pinnacle, gave so many opportunities to local journalists, and contributed to the emergence of television in the news media industry. He used his experience very effectively during his term as our Congressman, bringing his media savvy and strong business background to the job, to his candidacy for governor, and to his stint on the Board of Education.

"He was very generous in sharing his counsel and insights with me over the years, and the lessons he imparted have certainly helped guide my approach to the news media, government, and politics.

"We'll miss him, but his contributions to our community will endure. Gail and I send our sympathies to the Heftel ohana."

- Mayor Mufi Hannemann

"My relationship with Cec Heftel goes back 40 years when I was a University of Hawaii graduate student running for the U.S. Senate, along with environmentalist Tony Hodges during the Vietnam War. Tony and I were against the war and we both stood a very good chance of winning the Democratic nomination when Cec entered the race at the last minute. I remember picketing KGMB-TV, which Cec owned at the time, demanding a debate with him. Although he emerged the winner of that race, a lifelong friendship began for which I am extremely grateful.

"It's poignant to me that he has passed away at this time when we are about to have a special election for the same office he once occupied and I am leaving. In 1986, Cec left his House seat to run for governor, and I won the special election but lost the primary election on the same day in September to fill his seat. My wife, Nancie, and I had to move to Washington, D.C. without much money and no place to live. Cec called, offered his apartment and literally put a roof over our heads. He also asked his staff to stay on to help me participate as fully as possible in the work of the Congress from September until January. He was gracious, friendly, and couldn't have been more accommodating.

"After he lost his bid for the governor's office in 1986, I often sought his advice and counsel. He was always courteous and generous with his time. Eventually, he ran for the Board of Education, and I supported him. We talked a lot about education during his time there, and he made a tremendous contribution.

"Cec Heftel had a devotion to Hawaii that was complete. He demonstrated this through his many years as a leader in the broadcasting industry and a distinguished career as a public servant. I will always cherish his warmth, kindness and good counsel."

- Rep. Neil Abrecrombie

I appreciate Cec Heftel's lifelong commitment to Hawaii, in particular, his service to the people of the First Congressional District for close to a decade. I especially value his strong advocacy for improving the state's education system. I extend my deepest sympathy to the Heftel family.

- Rep Mazie Hirono


Congressman Cec Heftel served the people of the State of Hawaii with distinction for five successive terms from January 1977 until July 1986. Though he was elected from the 1st Congressional District (Urban Honolulu), his expertise in the broadcasting industry and leadership in the total community of Hawaii served the best interests of Rural O'ahu and the Neighbor Islands, as well. A life-long Democrat, his actions and demeanor were always clear, thoughtful and considerate.

As the then mayor of the County of Hawaii during his final term in Congress, we did share ideals and worked together on several community challenges. As recently as 2006, while a trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, we studied the possibility of siting new OHA Offices in the KGMB complex on Kapiolani Blvd. and beaming authentic Hawaiian Programs worldwide through its facilities. Cec Heftel's vision of serving the best interests of the common man and exemplifying Hawaii's Culture will be sorely missed!

- Dante K. Carpenter



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