Quiet Acts of Love: A Tribute to Julia Hale Souza

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Keoni Souza: Trustee At-Large

In a world where the spotlight often shines on the flashy, the bold and the outspoken, there are many who don’t seek the spotlight but whose tireless efforts shape the very foundation of our lives. Today, I want to shine a light on one such person: my mom, Julia Hale Souza.

Throughout my life, my mom, Julia, has epitomized selflessness. She dedicated herself wholeheartedly to serving our family, often sacrificing her own desires and dreams for ours. While some may seek recognition or praise for their contributions, my mom quietly labored behind the scenes, content in knowing that she was making a difference in our lives. Much of our successes and accomplishments are owed to her undying support, love, and encouragement.

Photo: Trustee Souza with his mother Julia Hale Souza

Trustee Souza with his mother Julia Hale Souza. – Courtesy Photo

Many of my earliest memories involve watching my mom dance hula at the Kapi’olani Park Bandstand or with Puanani Alama and Alicia Smith in the hula studio. Little did I know that these moments would ignite a passion for Hawaiian music and dance within me, shaping the course of my life.

We grew up with my mom’s parents in Liliha, where my early entertainer instincts began to emerge. I would often grab my Grandma’s cane, pretending it was a microphone, and sing “I Just Called to Say I Love You” to my mom and the rest of the family. While attending Kamehameha Schools since kindergarten, it wasn’t until Mrs. Lynell Bright’s fifth grade class, that I had a solo duet in the school play, where my mom recognized my natural talent for music. From that moment on, she stood by my side, guiding me along this new path with unwavering support and encouragement.

She encouraged me to join the Hawaiian Ensemble, and when I expressed a desire to learn to play instruments, she was there, ready to help me pursue my dreams. I vividly recall the day in high school when she took me to Good Guys Music to purchase my first guitar. Later, after forming the group, Nā Hoa, she accompanied me to the Easy Music Center to buy my first upright bass. We deliberated over the sound, type, and prices of the instruments, and I remember her advising me to invest in a high-quality bass, emphasizing that these were the tools of my craft. These were momentous occasions, brimming with excitement and anticipation for my musical journey ahead. It was with these instruments that I recorded our Hōkū-winning albums.

If someone were to ask me what I admire most about my mom, it would be the way she embraces and taught us the value of haʻahaʻa. She is humble, never seeks the spotlight or acclaim, but instead finds joy in simple acts of giving. She is the embodiment of patience, always calm and composed even in our large Hawaiian Portuguese family. My family would be quick to tell you that I was a stubborn, headstrong boy who sometimes didn’t listen to anyone because I wanted to do things on my own; but over the years, because of her gentle guidance, patience, and belief in me, I have grown to be the man I am today. For this, I will always be grateful.

Thank you, Mom, I love you and appreciate all you have done for us. Happy Mother’s Day to you and to all the mothers out there.