East Hawaii News

Senator Daniel Inouye Dies, Last Words Were “Aloha.”

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***Updated at 3:15 p.m. with comments on Inouye’s death.***

Hawaii’s longtime senator and Medal of Honor recipient Daniel K. Inouye passed away today from respiratory complications at 12:01 p.m. Hawaii time at Walter Reed National Medical Center.

Inouye had been under continuous medical care since fainting on Dec. 6. Hawaii’s senior senator had been using oxygen supplements prior to being admitted to Walter Reed. Inouye previously suffered a fall in November.

Last week, the senator was reappointed to his powerful post as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. That appointment was set to be confirmed by the full Senate in January.

Daniel Inouye’s wife Irene and son were at his side at the time of his passing, and last rites were performed by Senate Chaplain Dr. Barry Black.

Senator Inouye is survived by his wife, Irene Hirano Inouye, his son Daniel Ken Inouye Jr., daughter-in-law Jessica, and granddaughter Maggie and step-daughter Jennifer Hirano. Inouye was preceded in death by his first wife, Maggie Awamura.


Inouye’s deputy chief of staff, Peter Boylan, issued the following statement:

“Senator Inouye’s family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for the extraordinary care he received.”

Boylan described how the senator wanted to be remembered; recalling that in his final days Inouye told those present that “I represented the people of Hawaii and this nation honestly and to the best of my ability. I think I did OK.”

According to Boylan, Inouye’s last words were “Aloha.”

Tributes to Inouye were quick in coming.


“The senator gave everything. He knew the true meaning of ‘Go for Broke.’ He left us with a legacy of honor and service to the people of Hawaii, to the people of this nation, without parallel,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a statement.

“The senator recently made clear to me his love and affection for us all. He said: ‘I represented the people of Hawaii and this nation honestly and to the best of my ability. I think I did okay.’ I’m sure we all believe he did OK.

“Our responsibility is to not just carry on but carry through on his total devotion and commitment to Hawaii and its values,” Abercrombie said. “Our thoughts, hearts and deepest aloha go out to his wife, Irene; son, Ken; and the entire Inouye family.”

Big Island Mayor Mayor Billy Kenoi said he joined the people of the Big Island in mourning the passing of Inouye, who he said was an effective advocate for the people of Hawai‘i for more than five decades.

Kenoi described Inouye as a leader who embodied the best of yesterday, who served our community the best he could every day, and who was always mindful of future generations.


“Beyond the titles, beyond the power and the influence, what most stands out is his thoughtfulness, his kindness and how he treated everyone with respect and aloha,” Kenoi said in a statement. “I will never forget that lesson.”

He noted that many of Hawai‘i’s leaders walked through Senator Inouye’s office – including himself as he had worked as an intern in Inouye’s office in the summer of 1992.

“He gave me opportunity, and he supported me every step of the way,” Kenoi said. “I look to him with the same respect, honor and love that I feel for my parents.

“Senator Inouye was a friend and a mentor to generations of public servants. He always encouraged all of us to fight for what we believe in, to stand up for what is right, and most importantly, to give everything we have to serve the people of Hawaii,” Kenoi said. “He taught all of us how to conduct ourselves as public servants.”

“He was a tireless advocate for the people of Hawai‘i. Takako and I, our family, and our community are honored and privileged to have had him as a part of our lives.”

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