East Hawaii News

Oregon Niece Adds To Helene Hale’s Scholarship Fund

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Barbara Hilyer of Portland, Ore., is building on her aunt Heléne H. Hale’s legacy of generosity by donating real estate and creating a charitable remainder trust to help grow the Heléne Hilyer Hale “Citizen of the World” Scholarship Endowment.

Hilyer, of Portland, Ore., said the trust will augment a 2013 scholarship bequest from the late Heléne Hale herself that benefits UH-Hilo students pursuing teaching careers.

Together, these bequests represent Hale’s legacy commitment of more than $400,000, Hilyer said in a release.

Heléne Hale’s wishes were to keep the resources on the Big Island to benefit its people, she said. “As the executor of my aunt’s estate, I was honored to be able to work with the university to fulfill her desires.”


“My aunt was a public servant in Hawai‘i for more than 60 years. She always believed that education was the most basic foundation. Heléne wished to be remembered for her work to improve the quality of life for all people, protect our environment, preserve the Hawaiian heritage, and to bring peace to the world,” Hilyer said. “Through these scholarships, her dream of creating a world of aloha will live on.”

Mrs. Hale served four terms on the Board of Supervisors, the last couple of years as chief executive officer of the County of Hawai‘i (the territorial equivalent of the mayor’s office). She was a member of the Hawai‘i County Council from 1980 to 1994, and a delegate to the 1978 Constitutional Convention.

In 2000, at the age of 82, Hale broke the age barrier as the oldest person elected to the Hawai‘i State Legislature for the first time. Numerous achievements marked her political career, including her contributions to the development of astronomy atop Mauna Kea and the establishment of the Merrie Monarch Festival, along with many public infrastructure projects.


“Heléne Hale proved to be a role model for leaders and educators for generations to follow,” said UH Hilo College of Arts and Sciences Dean Randy Hirokawa. “She also challenged barriers of race, gender and age. She was civic-minded, courageous and outspoken, and Hawai‘i Island benefited from her leadership in many lasting ways,” he said.

Mrs. Hale earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s in English from the University of Minnesota. Education was a founding principle on which she was raised by her parents, who were both of mixed African-American and Caucasian heritage.

Unable to find work in the U.S. in the 1940s because of their race, Mrs. Hale and her first husband, William Hale, moved to Hawai‘i in 1947 to raise their two children in what she called a “racially receptive culture.” In the 1980s, she married Richard Kiyota and continued to reside in Hilo until her death in 2013 at the age of 94.


The Heléne Hilyer Hale “Citizen of the World” scholarship comes with the hope and expectation that the recipients will follow in her footsteps to make a difference in their communities, bring an international perspective, work for peace and justice, and spread the spirit of aloha, said the release.

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