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Former Sen. Akaka Dies at Age 93

April 6, 2018, 8:02 AM HST (Updated April 6, 2018, 2:37 PM) · 0 Comments
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Sen. Daniel Akaka. PC: Wikimedia Commons.

Former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, the first native Hawaiian to serve in the Senate, died early this morning at the age of 93.

He had been hospitalized for months and died at The Villas, a St. Francis care facility.

Services are pending.

Akaka, who served in Washington for more than three-and-a-half decades, was a strong advocate for Native Hawaiians and veterans during a political career that started in the House of Representatives in 1976 and ended in the U.S. Senate in 2013.

Gov. David Ige has ordered that the United States flag and the Hawai‘i state flag will be flown at half-staff as a mark of respect for the memory of Sen. Akaka.

Flags shall be flown at half-staff immediately, at the State Capitol and upon all state offices and agencies as well as the Hawai‘i National Guard in the State of Hawai‘i, until sunset on the day of Sen. Akaka’s interment.

Sen. Daniel Akaka at Gov. David Ige’s inauguration in 2014. Courtesy photo.

Gov. David Ige: “Our beloved Sen. Akaka lived a life of service and aloha, and each of us in Hawaiʻi has benefited in countless ways,”said Gov. Ige. “Our state mourns the loss of this man of upright character. While we celebrate his military service and dedication to our nation’s veterans, his advocacy of the Hawaiian language and culture, and his work in Congress to recognize Filipino veterans, he was first and foremost a family man. Dawn and I send our condolences to Auntie Millie and the entire Akaka ʻohana. A hui hou, Sen. Akaka.”

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Sen. Mazie Hirono released the following statement on the passing of Sen. Akaka: “Sen. Daniel Kahikina Akaka embodied the Aloha Spirit. He dedicated his life to serving the people of Hawaii as an educator, and in the U.S. Army, state government, the U.S. House, and the U.S. Senate. In Congress, Senator Akaka’s care, empathy, and collegiality served as an example for us all. It’s an honor to sit at his desk in the Senate chamber, and we continue his work to improve the lives of veterans and the Native Hawaiian community. My thoughts are with Millie and the Akaka ‘ohana in this difficult time. As he so often said, mahalo nui loa, my friend.”

House of Representatives Speaker Scott Saiki: “Sen. Akaka served Hawai‘i with dignity, respect and humility. He never lost sight of his values and the need to protect our state and its people. Hawai‘i has lost an extraordinary statesman.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: “My heart is heavy today as we remember my dear friend and mentor, Sen. Daniel K. Akaka. With a servant’s heart full of aloha, Sen. Akaka dedicated his life to serving the people and our nation, in the U.S. Army, as a public school teacher, in the U.S. House of Representatives, and in the U.S. Senate. I am grateful to have worked with and known Sen. Akaka over the years, and to have witnessed firsthand how he truly embodied the aloha spirittreating all with kindness, respect, and love. His legacy of service and aloha will continue to inspire each of us to live aloha every dayserving others, protecting our planet, and fighting for justice, equality, and peace. My heart is with Aunty Millie and the entire Akaka ʻohana. A hui hou and aloha, my friend.”

Democratic Party of Hawai‘i Chair Tim Vandeveer: “Sen. Akaka was an inspiration to so many in our party and all levels of government. In Congress, his warmth and generosity earned him respect from members of both sides of the aisle. He embodied the Aloha Spirit and always put the people of Hawai‘i first. We celebrate his life, his dedication to public service and his commitment to the Democratic Party. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his ‘ohana during this difficult time.”

Lt. Gov. Doug Chin: “Former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka epitomized the true meaning of aloha. He treated everyone with genuine kindness, grace and compassion. We deeply mourn his passing and send our heartfelt sympathies to his family. Rest in peace and love, Sen. Akaka.”

Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi: “Sen.Akaka was a true statesman who exemplified the best qualities of a leader and embodied the Spirit of Aloha. He dedicated his life to serving the people of Hawai‘i and we are all better because of him. My deepest condolences to Aunty Millie and the entire Akaka family during this time.”

Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English: “As the highest ranking Native Hawaiian in elected office, Sen. Akaka embodied the hopes and dreams of the Hawaiian people. His steadfast commitment to Hawai‘i and his many accomplishments has created a firm foundation for Native Hawaiians to move forward. Aloha minamina iā ‘Anakē Millie me ka ‘ohana Akaka. Ke aloha paumākō.”

Hawai‘i Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald: “On behalf of the Hawai‘i State Judiciary, I extend our sympathy and aloha to Mrs. Akaka and the Akaka ‘ohana. From teaching in our public schools to representing Hawai‘i in Congress with distinction for more than 35 years, Sen. Akaka was a true public servant who always had the best interests of Hawai‘i’s people in his heart. He exemplified aloha in everything he did, and treated everyone with kindness, warmth and respect. Although we will miss his warm smile and wise leadership, he will always remind us of the power of a life guided by the aloha spirit.”

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz: “When Daniel K. Akaka went to Washington, he always took Hawai‘i with him. His unbending source of strength was the people and land he loved so much. Sen. Akaka served his country as a welder, public school principal, gubernatorial aide, U.S. representative, and U.S. Senator. As a World War II Army veteran, his life was changed by the GI bill, and he believed in the government’s power to improve people’s lives—a guiding principle during his 36 years of service in Congress. He wrote and passed into law a 21st century GI bill, which updated and expanded services for veterans and their families. He spent years on the Indian Affairs Committee fighting for Native Hawaiians. He pushed for workers’ rights and good governance, enacting whistleblower protections as the chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management. Every national park in Hawai‘i is better because of him; he expanded or improved each one, as well as the federally authorized National Tropical Botanical Garden. Sen. Akaka also left his mark on the Dodd-Frank Act by making sure it improved financial literacy and expanded consumer and investor protections, and he secured funding for the H-3 as a member of the House Appropriations Committee and passed into law the Commercial Space Launch Act. Even after he left the Senate in 2012, Sen. Akaka continued to lead. People looked to him for guidance and mentorship because of his strong moral compass as a policy maker and family man. He was a devoted husband to Millie and loving father and grandfather to a large ‘ohana. Our thoughts are with his family in this difficult time. He will be well remembered and greatly missed.”

Sen. Daniel Akaka and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. Courtesy photo.

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa: “Hawai‘i’s heart is broken this morning as we learn of the passing of one of our greatest statesmen. He represented everything that was good in all of us. A World War II veteran from the greatest generation, he represented that which is Hawai‘i. Thank you, Sen. Akaka, for your legacy of courage and love. You taught Congress and our nation how to fight for what you believe in with dignity, humility, respect and Aloha. We all aspire to lead like you. Senator’s passionate advocacy on behalf of Hawai‘i, Native Hawaiians, his students, veterans, and his contributions to our community and humanity cannot be easily measured. He gave his heart to Hawai‘i. Our thoughts and prayers are with Aunty Millie and the entire Akaka ‘ohana.”

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