Friends, colleagues remember Pali accident victim

Friends, colleagues remember Pali accident victim
Center: Herbert Muraoka
Center: Herbert Muraoka

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Friends and family are mourning the loss of Herbert Muraoka.  The longtime city employee and golfer died in an accident on the Pali Highway yesterday.

Muraoka was considered the father of the modern day building code. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says Muraoka dedicated his life to making buildings safer and the community better.  Those that knew him from work and golf remembered him today.

"You can tell this morning the murmur going around all the golfers it was actually rather depressing to see. Normally early in the morning a lot of the golfers are excited and ready to go out they want to get their exercise but it was different this morning," said John Pritchard, Pali Golf Course Starter.

Different because long time regular Herbert Muraoka wasn't there.

Yesterday after playing his daily nine holes at the Pali Golf Course he and his wife were driving to their Nuuanu home when they hit the back of a tow truck that was making a U-turn. Muraoka died at the scene.

"Well I knew him over 30 years. I knew him pretty well. He played golf here almost every day," said Pritchard.

Pritchard's dad also worked with Muraoka and knew him from his days with the city.

Mr. Muraoka was given a lifetime achievement award for his 34 years of work with the city.

"My father worked for the city under the Frank Fasi administration as he did and they knew each other from back then," said Pritchard.

Despite being 83, Muraoka and his wife would walk the course.

Pritchard saw them yesterday and wishes he would've talked with them longer.

"It weighed on me heavily all night long and still now. I'm still thinking about it.  It's going to be with me for awhile," said Pritchard.

Folks that have golfed with Mr. Muraoka shared some funny stories with us today. They said he would address the ball and wait, and wait, and wait. Sometimes he would wait so long they would wonder if he fell asleep.

The only time he and his wife Marjorie didn't show up to golf was when they were travelling.

"They went on safaris, they went to Europe, they went all over the place. It was an exciting life I wish I could have done all that," said Pritchard.

While Muraoka's game may not have always been bogey free, friends say his life was.

"No question he lived a good life," said Pritchard. "He died in an area looking over the golf course he played every day."

His wife Marjorie Muraoka who was in critical condition yesterday is in fair condition today at Queen's Medical Center.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell issued the following statement:

"Mr. Muraoka was a highly respected public servant who will be missed by many," said Mayor Caldwell. "He dedicated his life to making our buildings safer, and helped make our community a better place. I met Mr. Muraoka just over a week ago on New Year's Eve, and we had a great time sharing stories about his time at the City. He also took the opportunity to remind me about building safety, which was his true passion.

"There is no doubt that Mr. Muraoka's tireless work to improve building codes has saved lives, which makes the circumstances of his death even more upsetting. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Marjorie while she recovers, and with all of his ohana. I fully support the Honolulu Police Department's efforts to improve signage and infrastructure on this stretch of the Pali to prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring again."

City Building Division Chief Tim Hiu said Muraoka will be missed by many City employees.

"Herb Muraoka was a humble person and a man of few words, and his passing is deeply felt by the City," Hiu said. "Many of us considered him the father of the modern day building code. The health and safety of the citizens of Honolulu were paramount to Herb. His legacy will live on in all of the buildings that we live and work in."

Muraoka began working for the City in 1960 as a structural engineer, and was appointed as director and building superintendent of the Building Department in 1985 by Mayor Frank Fasi. He retired in 1994.

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