Aloha Uncle Walter and Mr. Bowers

8 01 2011

I am mourning and celebrating the lives of two greats today:

Walter Kau, wonderful friend to my mother’s family, died on Dec. 20, 2010.

“Uncle” Walter was a very dapper fellow with so much talent, impeccable taste, friendship, love and light. Really a wonderful man. He taught my mother organ. I remember the stage musicals he played for and directed. I remember the dinners he cooked for my aunties and uncles on Monday nights in Kailua, and I remember the day he wrote a check for my oil painting — I think he was my first customer — straight out of the trunk of my car. What an honor! I remember bumping into him not too long ago down at Ward Center and he told me he was buying new shoes. For dancing, no doubt! He was a great friend of our family. His obituary (click on his name above) recalls just the headlines of his full life.

Francis “Miki” Bowers, long-time teacher and friend of Punahou School, passed on New Year’s Day. My contemporaries called him Mister Bowers from the time he was their math teacher. Later our alumni class made malasadas for Carnival under his watchful supervision until we were banned for making non-regulation sizes and shapes. Most recently I had the pleasure of singing in the alumni glee club with Miki, who played ukulele and anchored our group sound. Sometimes he was the entire bass section. He was a trouper. In failing health, he attended last month in wheelchair with oxygen tank to perform at our last Christmas gig of the season.

Punahou president James Scott sent out to the school community a message that I quote, in part,

“It is with great sadness that I share the passing of Dr. Francis “Miki” A. I. Bowers  . . . on January 1, 2011.  Miki was our beloved Academy math faculty who retired in 1998 with 41 years of service.

“A 1945 Punahou graduate, Miki lettered in football and swimming and was student body president his senior year, the same year John Fox started as President.

“In his 41 years at Punahou, Dr. Bowers taught every math course offered, served as department chair for 12 years, supervised Punahou’s SAT testing program for 25 years, and revolutionized math instruction by creating a highly successful AP Calculus program.  He also coached swimming, water polo and volleyball.

“In 1957 Miki inaugurated the famous Carnival malasada booth and was fondly known as “Mr. Malasada.”  For over 50 years he worked with student, parent and alumni volunteers to ensure that fresh, hot, and uniform sized malasadas kept up with demand.

“In 1999, Miki was awarded the “O” in Life by the Punahou Alumni Association, its highest award to an alumnus – recognizing outstanding continuing service to Punahou and Hawai‘i that exemplifies the school’s tradition, spirit, and ideals.

“Proud of his Hawaiian heritage and raised in a home filled with Hawaiian music, Miki was known for his booming bass voice.  In the mid-1960s, he had a Sunday night television show called “Sing Along with Miki”, a live, call-in request format.  Miki also was an active member of the Punahou Alumni Glee Club and the Prince Kuhio Hawaiian Civic Club where he was a Director and a member of their choral group.

“Miki leaves Punahou a legacy of excellence and reminds all of us to, “Take charge of your own education, aim high, and don’t be discouraged.”

Aloha dear friends. Mahalo nui. You gave us so much. A hui hou.

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke
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