The Skies are Darkened

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Submitted by Papa Ola Lōkahi

“Kūpouli Kānehoa i ka hele a Kaukaʻōpua; Kānehoa is darkened by the departure of Kaukaʻōpua.” – ʻŌlelo Noʻeau #1931

Auwē!

The skies are darkened by the recent passing of six ʻŌiwi health professionals.

We weep with their families,we grieve with their patients and students, we join the mourning lāhui. Uwē, uwē, uwē.

Photo: Emmett Aluli

Noa Emmett ʻAuwae Aluli, MD
Jan. 16, 1944 – Nov. 30, 2022

Dr. Aluli was recruited to the pilot four-year program at the medical school at the University of Hawaiʻi, where he was one of just five Native Hawaiians in that first graduating class in 1975. He committed to serve the medical needs of Molokaʻi where sometimes he was the only physician on island. Aluli was involved in the groundbreaking E Ola Mau reports on Hawaiian health and wellbeing. He helped to establish Papa Ola Lōkahi and, closer to home, Nā Puʻuwai, the Native Hawaiian Health Care System that serves the islands of Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi including Kalaupapa, and served as medical director of Molokaʻi General Hospital. In the early 1980s, Aluli initiated the first Native Hawaiian heart study, Nā Puʻuwai, followed by the Molokaʻi diet study, Hoʻokē ʻAi, that demonstrated the advantages of a traditional Hawaiian. More recently, he was a co-principal investigator of Hua Kanawao Ka Liko – A Generational Study of Heart Health among the Hawaiians on Molokaʻi. He also co-founded ʻAhahui o nā Kauka, the Association of Native Hawaiian Physicians, with doctors Kekuni Blaisdell and Clayton Chong, who all visualized the impact a hui of Native Hawaiian physicians could have on health care policy and delivery. Stewardship of community health went hand in hand with stewardship of ʻāina, which included alaloa (accessways) of Molokaʻi, Waokele o Puna and Kanaloa Kahoʻolawe. In his medical practice, he partnered with traditional Hawaiian healers and western clinicians to improve health outcomes for his patients. All who serve the health and wellbeing of Native Hawaiians and their families comprise the lasting legacy of Noa Emmett Aluli.

Photo: Clayton Chong

Clayton D.K. Chong, MD, MPH
May 31, 1954 – Nov. 23, 2022

Dr. Chong was the first Native Hawaiian oncologist, and for many years was the only one. He was the specialist that Hawaiians with cancer sought out. He called himself “Dr. Crabbie” but that crabbiness disappeared in front of his patients. He was beloved by his patients for his straightforward, honest manner and was known to hold a patient’s hand throughout an entire visit. Chong was the principal investigator of ʻImi Hale Native Hawaiian Cancer Network, which was funded by the National Cancer Institute and administered by Papa Ola Lōkahi for 16 years. He also participated with Native Hawaiian men’s and women’s cancer committees with the American Cancer Society. He also co-founded ʻAhahui o nā Kauka and served as its first president. The highlights of his term were the annual huakaʻi to Kahoʻolawe and Kalaupapa, and the 2004 visit to Mauna Kea. Chong transformed from physician to physician/researcher before pursuing an additional degree in public health From Harvard University. His oncology training was at MD Anderson in Texas. He told stories about growing up in Hilo, fishing in Kapoho and his many, many hobbies outside of medicine. He is survived by his wife, Edwina, three children and four grandchildren who called him “Grumpa.” His life will be celebrated on Jan. 7 at 10:30 a.m. at Central Union Church.

Photo: Wayne Fukino

R. Wayne Fukino, MD
Jan. 28, 1949 – Dec. 14, 2022

Dr. Wayne Fukino was raised on Oʻahu and practiced internal medicine on Kauaʻi for more than 34 years. He was a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools and in the second ʻImi Hoʻōla cohort at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, where he graduated in 1981. He specialized in internal medicine and worked in the emergency room at Kauaʻi Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waimea, where he also served for a time as medical director. Always an advocate for accessible health care, particularly for Kānaka Maoli, he taught nurses compassionate care even from his own hospital bed. Fukino was a member of the original E Ola Mau, the group whose work led to the passage of the federal Native Hawaiian Health Care Act and the establishment of Papa Ola Lōkahi. He served as president of Hoʻōla Lāhui Hawaiʻi, the Native Hawaiian Health Care System that serves the communities of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau, and on the board of ʻAhahui o nā Kauka. With his wife Nani, Fukino rallied the community on Kauaʻi to host the international Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors Congress in Waimea in 2008. He is celebrated by his wife, Davelyn Haunani “Nani” Fukino, three sons and a daughter, family and friends. A living wake was held in August 2022. A more public celebration will be planned for February on Kauaʻi.

Photo: Milton Keaulana Holt

Milton Keaulana Holt
July 6, 1961 – Nov. 7, 2022

Milton Keaulana Holt became a part of the Hawaiian health community when he was awarded the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship in 1996. He served Leeward Oʻahu as a social worker and administrator at Hale Naʻau Pono, the Waiʻanae Coast Community Mental Health Center, way beyond the obligated service requirement. Holt was a graduate of Punahou in the (Barack Obama) class of ’79 and the University of Hawaiʻi. He was an accomplished musician, stand-up bass being his specialty, a chanter and lei-maker, and competent in featherwork and many other Hawaiian arts. At one point in his career he served as a kumu at Saint Louis School. He had a fine aesthetic sense demonstrated by the plants and floral arrangements that adorned his office. He often spoke of his grandmother, the inimitable Venus Gay Holt, under whose tutelage he learned kuleana and stewardship, which manifested in a calling to care for the Hawaiian people. After taking time off to care for his tūtū, he returned to the Hawaiian health arena as administrator of the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program. Leaning on his experiences as an alumnus, during his tenure he updated policies and procedures and was both an advocate and social worker for the scholars. He was generous with his colleagues and doted on his family. He retired from Papa Ola Lōkahi in 2019. His life was celebrated at Nānākuli Beach Park in December. He is survived by his mother Virginia “Aunty Nani” Holt, his brother Malcolm Haʻalilio Holt, aunties, many cousins and darling moʻopuna. Wishing comfort and marvelous memories to the Holt, Gay and Keaulana families and all who will miss dear Keaulana.

Photo: Dane Silva

Dane Kaʻohelani Silva, DC, LMT
Nov. 9, 1946 – Nov. 27, 2022

Dr. Dane Kaʻohelani Silva, raised in Keaukaha, was a chiropractor and lomilomi practitioner who embraced teaching in his later years. Being in the right place at the right time, Dr. Silva – known as Kumu Lomilomi – enjoyed the tutelage of Papa Henry Auwae in lāʻau lapaʻau, Lanakila Brandt in hoʻoponopono, Uncle Bill Kaiwa, and other kūpuna practitioners who guided his path in martial arts and other cultural understandings. He had a brilliant mind, and his research interests were broad and deep, with a particular focus of inquiry into the impact and mitigation of inflammation. He participated in the establishment of Hui Mālama Ola Nā ʻŌiwi, the Native Hawaiian Health Care System that serves the island of Hawaiʻi. Representing the group Kahuna Lāʻau Lapaʻau o Hawaiʻi, Dr. Silva often joined the annual island-wide [preferred to statewide] kūpuna council gatherings. He never hesitated to encourage Papa Ola Lōkahi or any of our health care systems to do better, but with that historic appreciation of the purpose of the federal Native Hawaiian health care program, Dr. Silva was also quick to defend these programs. He and his lifelong friend, Desmon Haumea, co-founded Hālau Mauli Ola Health in Hilo. He was a member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha. He is survived by his wife, Pam Barretto Silva, two daughters, a son, and his grandchildren.

Photo: William Thomas

William Longfellow “Kāneloa” Thomas, MD
Aug. 19, 1959 – Sept. 4, 2022

Dr. William Longfellow Kāneloa Thomas graduated from Kamehameha Schools, the University of Hawaiʻi and the John A. Burns School of Medicine. Specializing in internal medicine, he was in the third cohort of recipients of the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program (NHHSP) and the first NHHSP physician to commit to serving on the island of Molokaʻi. He embraced the island and her people and rose to positions of leadership as medical director at Molokaʻi General Hospital, a subsidiary of the Queen’s Health Systems. His Kamehameha classmate, Liana Honda, writes: “Dr. Thomas had a few names from the formal to the beloved. [He was] known as Dr. T. by his patients, Bill by his classmates and friends, Will by his sisters, and Kako by his niece and nephew. This humble man was also known as Kāneloa. You see, [he] didnʻt have a Hawaiian name. He was a “junior” named after his father. When he started college one of his Hawaiian instructors bestowed a name upon him based on his character – Kāneloa – which dives deeper into hidden meanings fitting for Bill. A man of leadership. A man of strength. A man of caring. From then on, he was known as Kāneloa. And boy, did he live up to this name, in all its interpretations.” Thomas was generous with his time, willing to serve as an advisor to the NHHSP and engage with younger scholars in the program. He had a hearty laugh and the best bear hugs. He was a member of ʻAhahui o nā Kauka and attended every gathering of the Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors Congress, including the last one in Vancouver, British Columbia in July 2022. Thomas passed away in September; services on Molokaʻi and Oʻahu have been held.