‘Full of aloha’: Kauai entertainment icon Larry Rivera dies at 92, leaving lasting legacy
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A red lei around his neck, ukulele in hand, and a beaming smile — that’s how so many will remember entertainment icon Larry Rivera.
He was a legendary figure on Kauai, known as ‘Mr. Coco Palms’. He died Monday night at the age of 92, according to his family.
“He was a lot of fun. He loved jokes and making people happy,” his youngest daughter Lurline Fernandez said.
They said a minor car accident he was in, along with follow-up medical visits, uncovered he had widespread terminal cancer.
When asked what she will miss most about her father, Fernandez said, “I’m gonna miss everything, every day. There’s nothing ‘most’ about it because he was bigger than anything you can imagine.”
Rivera had an extraordinary life in the entertainment industry. He started his career in the 1950s and eventually ran a show featuring his family seven nights a week at the famed Coco Palms Resort in Wailua.
“Coco Palms was the most beautiful place on earth to be,” Fernandez said. “We shared a lot of love there.”
Rivera was revered as an island treasure, working alongside other superstars like Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii and Bruddah Iz.
Over the years, Rivera entertained thousands of honeymooners, visitors, and locals. In 2013, he earned a Na Hoku Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award.
Later, he performed regularly with his daughter Lurline at various venues around Kauai. He hit the stage at Cafe Portofino in Nawilili as recently as early January. It was one of his last performances before he was hospitalized.
Word of his passing spread quickly on the Garden Isle, and tributes poured in.
“I just found out last night that Larry has passed, so I was just very very very depressed,” longtime friend Dickie Chang said. “I felt lonely, but I knew he was in a better place, and he is right now.”
Chang continued, “There was not a bad bone in his body, and he was just full of aloha and he wasn’t faking it. It was just all-natural. Big big big natural smile, (and) hugs.”
On Jan. 22nd, Rivera and his wife Gloria celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary.
“He was the awesomest dad ever, and he was a wonderful husband to my mom. But I’d like everyone to most remember his music, and the love and aloha he has shared with everyone around the world,” Fernadez added.
The family kindly asks for privacy as they plan his services, but they say they appreciate the love shown to them in light of his passing.
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