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After decades of searching, a family gets to offer their long-lost loved one a fitting goodbye

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 5:19 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On the beach behind the Outrigger Canoe Club, sailors in Navy whites honored Thomas Powell, a Bronze Star recipient who served aboard the USS Goldsborough in the 1960s.

But separation from his family happened decades before his death.

“We lost track of him 50 years ago when he didn’t return letters. We looked for him, each one of us in the family looked for him over a period of 20 years,” his sister Liz Powell said.

Her brother lived in a car, and spent days working at odd jobs and watching tennis at the Diamond Head tennis courts, where he met businessman Seymour Kazimirski.

“What really made Tom a very special person was how kind he was. I don’t consider him a homeless man. I considered him a man without a home,” he said.

Kazimirski had Powell to his home for holidays.

“Whether he came for Jewish holidays like Chanukah and Passover, or Thanksgiving and Christmas time, he was the most congenial of all of our guests,” Kazimirski said.

He and his tennis buddies bought Powell breakfast nearly every day for 10 years and tried to get him off the streets. But he refused.

In 2017, Powell was a guest on Kazimirski’s internet talk show where he shared his views of homelessness.

“A third of the people out there are people who have mental issues and are really unprepared to fend for themselves,” Powell said, during one of two appearances he made on the program called “Seymour’s World.”

After hearing of their brother’s death last year, his sisters stumbled onto the videos.

“My son-in-law had Googled Tom, Tommy, Thomas Powell, then added Hawaii, and then added veteran and up popped Seymour’s video,” Kate Blekeberg said.

The women contacted Kazimirski and learned of their brother’s desire to be buried at sea off Waikiki.

“Being able to take his ashes out today and scatter them in the Pacific, that’s a feeling money can’t buy,” Kazimirski said.

He arranged for the military ceremony, a final tribute to his friend.

“We’re grateful that he ended his life with friends in a beautiful place. I don’t think any of us could ask for anything more,” Liz Powell said.

She showed off photographs of her brother when he was a young boy, a young man, abd a sailor who served his country.

His siblings said the beach side ceremony was bittersweet, it’s like they lost him twice. Although he was homeless, they’re thankful that in some ways he died a happy man.

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