Well-known hula dancer Beverly Noa, a former Miss Hawaii who has been described as "hula royalty," died Thursday.
She was 84.
Noa is perhaps best known for her graceful performance of "Lovely Hula Hands," and of her showroom solo hula performances with renowned Hawaii singers.
"She was the very best in her craft, and she transported you to a heavenly place, with just fingertips," said local entertainer and former Miss Hawaii Cathy Foy.
Son Fred Noa said she had been battling cancer, and had been hospitalized since Sunday.
Fred Noa also said she made a big difference in the lives of many people.
"She loved people," he said. "She always used to say, you know, 'people matter, things don't.'"
She was a regular dancer at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and other venues after being crowned Miss Hawaii in 1952. She also worked as as freelance fashion model.
Fred Noa also said he didn't realize how well known his mother was until later in life.
"It probably wasn't until we got significantly older, in our teens, and seeing the adulation and the fact she moved a lot of people in the arts."
“Her name is of hula royalty. Her presence is unforgettable. Her hula is pure art,” said kumu hula Michael Pili Pang. "Her style of movement is like watching poetry in motion as she transports you to a romantic place in the mountains or to a spectacular sunset along a beach."
Noa was honored with Hula Grill Waikiki's annual I Ola Mau Ka Hula award last March. She spontaneously performed hula with Robert Cazimero on the piano, including one sitting down. Fred Noa said it was hard for her to do, but she still did it.
"She was in pain. And she actually danced sitting. And it was precious. I've seen her dance my entire life, 57 years. And to see her dance then brought me to my knees."
Although she was renowned in the hula world, Fred Noa will always cherish her as his mom.
"It was walking on the beach. It was the coaching and the mentoring. And she was really truly my dearest friend."
Noa is also survived by another son, well-known Hawaii chef Ed Kenney.