HILO (HawaiiNewsNow) - Uncle George Naope started dancing hula when he was just 3 years old. Born during the great depression he taught hula for 60-years.
Several hundred people gathered today at the Ah Fook Chinen Civic Auditorium to remember a man who dedicated his life to hula.
"Every city that I been to with Kumu Ray and with uncle he's like a king, he's an emperor he's a ali'i, he's a master of kumu hula of hula," slack key master, Cyril Pahinui said.
Slack key virtuoso, Cyril Pahinui traveled to Japan with Uncle George.
"I'm so thankful I had time to perform for him and to perform with him on stage That's treasures for me I'm gonna keep this deep in my heart forever and ever," Pahinui said.
His students also recognize and cherish the gift that he's shared with them. Etua Lopez studied under him for 43 years.
"I honor him every time I perform so this is important for my Haumana to come and share and to learn who he is for those that didn't get to meet him," former student, Etua Lopez said. "He would always say simplicity is the key to dance keep everything simple and traditional, tradition means simplicity."
Sammie is a haumana of the late Rae Fonseca, who studied with Etua and directly under Uncle George.
"I can't imagine being in hula and teaching hula without his mana'o behind me," Sammye Kuualoha Young said.
"Every day that I teach, every student that I come across, it is those that come before me that I hope to instill in all of them those that touched my life," Young said.
Uncle George's legacy carries on not only through his students, but also directly through his family.
"We have a niece who's three years old who is learning hula now, too bad she can't learn from her grand Uncle," Brother, Francis Naope said.
His brother Francis shared memories of helping him to pack for trips. Being the ultimate showman, his favorite suit was the sparkly one.
"He had gold shoes, gold socks, gold pants, gold shirt, gold hat, everything," Francis said.
You know which one I'm talking about. But it was his love of hula that shined through the most.