Ha¯‘ulelau 2009 Fall 2009
Career and Post-High Counseling Program Serving Thousands page 6 PUBLISHED
KS in the News
The Admiral – trustee Robert Kihune ’55 – heads for fair winds and following seas after completing his more than 10-year term and helping restore respect and honor to Kamehameha Schools
All the King’s Men
Ha‘i‘o¯lelo A Ke Kahu
Three Mountain Alliance Wins Award
f only Mrs. Ota could see him now. The former Kawananakoa Middle School teacher never saw Robert Kihune ’55 become a three-star vice admiral in the U.S. Navy. She never saw him become an admired Kamehameha Schools trustee. And she will never know of the huge role trustee Kihune – affectionately, respectfully and universally hailed as “Admiral” – played in righting a Kamehameha ship badly in need of his leadership after he chose to come onboard. But many years ago, Mrs. Ota did see something special in one of her young students, and at a time when he needed her most, she saw to it that he would become a Kamehameha Schools student. “I was born and raised in La¯haina¯, but after World War II we moved to Papako¯lea,” Kihune recalled. “After Pauoa Elementary, I went to Kawananakoa. And when I was there, well, I hung out with some real bad guys, and I almost got myself into the Ko‘olau Detention Home for Boys. “But my seventh-grade teacher, Mrs. Ota, came down to the police station to appeal on
Alumni Class News
7 Trustee Robert “Admiral” Kihune ’55 completed his term on Aug. 31, 2009. New trustee Micah Kane ’87 replaced Kihune on Sept. 1, 2009.
“Getting into Kamehameha Schools provided me with a new path in life,” Kihune said. “It took me away from the destiny I was embarking on if I had stayed at Kawananakoa. I never realized
“ The Admiral’s leadership has been instrumental in navigating Kamehameha Schools from a time of turmoil and distrust to a period of order and confidence – restoring respect and honor to our beloved school. His contributions have been many, however, leadership has been at their core.” – Dr. Michael Chun ’61 President and Headmaster, Kamehameha Schools Kapa¯lama
my behalf. I guess she just saw something in me that she liked. I was a good student, but I was kind of kolohe, and I was just hanging out with the wrong kind of boys. I was released, but all the other guys I was with went to the detention home.” Mrs. Ota thought Kawananakoa might not be the right place for young Kihune to be, so she helped get him into Kamehameha Schools, where he was welcomed for the beginning of his eighth-grade year.
just how much of an impact my seventh-grade teacher had on me until much later in my life.” And what a life it has been.
n 1999, Kamehameha Schools was swirled in controversy, with heated allegations against the former trustees and serious issues with the Internal Revenue Service. Kihune had retired from the Navy in 1994, and was busy serving as president and CEO of the U.S.S. Missouri Memorial Association, trying to
get the historic ship to open as a visitor attraction at Pearl Harbor. “Out of the blue, I get a call from Judge Kevin Chang, and he said he’d like me to become a special purpose trustee,” Kihune said. “He said the job would primarily focus on resolving the IRS allegations against KS and the former trustees. The court master, Colbert Matsumoto, said it would only take about half a day, two times a week. He encouraged me to try and resolve this issue.” Since Kihune’s retirement from the service, he said he had always wanted a chance to serve the school which had helped shape his life. “When I got the call, there was no doubt in my mind what my decision would be, since it had to do with Kamehameha Schools. Everything was already in the papers, and there was so
much happening up here. It was time for me to step in and try to help, and it was time for me to give back to this school.” In February of 1999, the first special purpose trustee meeting was held with banker and former trustee Connie Lau, former police chief Francis Keala, former ‘Iolani headmaster David Coon and attorney Ronald Libkumen. “I had never known of, or even seen these people before, but we all came together,” Kihune said. “I’m not sure if it was rigged, but they made me the chair, so I said ‘Let’s get started.’” Kihune said that none of the five special purpose trustees, including him, knew the inner workings of KS. They were assigned an attorney and an accountant and began looking into everything. continued on page 10
“Admiral Kihune represents the heart and soul of Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i. His understated elegance is surpassed only by his humility and effectiveness. He will be forever loved by our Big Island community.” – Dr. Stan Fortuna Headmaster, Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i