HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many people who forged lasting legacies in Hawaii died over the course of 2017.
It was a sad start to the year for local newsrooms, when the former news director of two Hawaii television stations died. Walter Zimmermann, known to all as Wally, spent more than 20 years in Hawaii television. The 73-year-old had a major impact on broadcast news.
Our brothers and sisters in blue also took a hit in January with the death of one of Honolulu's former top cops. Francis Keala, 86, retired in 1983 but left quite a legacy at the Honolulu Police Department. He was one of the first to confirm organized crime existed in Hawaii. In response, he started the covert operation hukilau, and later launched the drug eradication program known as green harvest.
January also marked the loss of 'Uncle Joe' Tassill. Known for creating the capital tour program and his service at the department at the Hawaiian homelands, Uncle Joe was the true beacon of Hawaiian consciousness and spirit.
After three years of intense fighting, 3-year-old Maui boy Trucker Dukes lost his battle with cancer in March. The honorary firefighter inspired thousands across the country as the "Trucker Tough" challenge made its rounds on social media.
In March, a legal giant of Hawaii also died. Retired Judge James Burns died after a long battle with throat cancer.
Burns was the son of Hawaii's second Gov. John Burns, who became the chief judge of the intermediate court of appeals, the state's second highest court.
Hawaii's music industry suffered significant losses this year. In January, Eddie Kamae, a son of Hawaii, passed away as one of his most famous songs, "E Ku'u Morning Dew," played in the background. The beloved Hawaiian composer and musician was 89.
Then in March, Hawaii Island mourned the loss of the matriarch of the award winning Hawaii music group, the Lind family. Aunty Mary Ann Lim was a fixture of her performances, and most recently enjoyed the success of her grandson, Bubba, the founder and designer of Manaola Hawaii.
Lind was 81 years old.
Renowned slack-key guitarist Martin Pahinui died in Waimanalo in May. The youngest of ten children from Gabby and Emily Pahinui, Martin performed with many of the state's top artists. He was 65 years old.
Hawaiian Music Hall-of-Fame musician Edwin Mahiai Beamer will forever be remembered as one of the premier falsetto voices Hawaii has ever produced. He died in July, moments after playing music at his older brother Milton's funeral service.
Days later, beloved Hawaiian music entertainer Roland Cazimero died at the age of 66. Roland and his older brother Robert became the "Brothers Cazimero" in 1975, with Robert the lead and on bass and Roland playing the guitar. They were pioneers of contemporary Hawaiian music who went on to win numerous Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.
Earlier this month, another award-winniong musician, Randy Hongo, died at the age of 70. He and his wife Gay are well-known Christian recording artists, who won six Na Hoku Hanohano Awards for Religious Album of the Year.
In 2017, we also bid a final farewell to a man who entertained television audiences, movie-goers and music lovers over the course of several decades. Jim Nabors was best known for his role as the lovable Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show, but he was also blessed with a rich baritone singing voice. He died at his Diamond Head home in November at the age of 87.