HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A memorial service in downtown Honolulu Tuesday honored the life of the late Kalaupapa patient, Uncle Clarence “Boogie” Kahilihiwa.
He died last month at the age of 79. Kahilihiwa was one of the few remaining residents of Kalaupapa.
He was known as a champion and respected figured in the community as he lived and worked in the settlement as the president of Ka ʻOhana O Kalaupapa. He was dedicated to preserving the history of the site and respecting the patients who lived and died there.
“Boogie truly chose light over darkness, hope over despair, love over hate. He lived his life always thinking of others and teaching others to always give back,” Valerie Monson of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa said.
“Boogie had a remarkable ability to get along with anyone of any age, of any background. About 10 years ago he sat down with the 5th grade students of Kamehameha Schools and shared his life experiences with them. Almost immediately, Boogie was everyone’s grandfather,” Monson added. “His stories made a huge impact on those kids.”
Kahilihiwa was taken from his family at just 9 years old after he was diagnosed with leprosy, Monson said. He was initially admitted to the treatment facility Hale Mohalu in Pearl City in 1950, and later moved to Molokai nine years later to be with his sister and brother.
Tuesday’s memorial was livestreamed in Kalaupapa, where Kahilihiwa’s wife Ivy, who he was married to for 43 years, was able to watch.
“We thank God for the example that he gave us of a servant of the Lord, of someone who dedicated his life to bringing hope and light to others,” Bishop Larry Silva, Diocese of Honolulu, said during the service.