Lyman Museum Plans Dinner to Honor Hilo Community Leader

September 21, 2015, 4:40 PM HST
* Updated September 8, 6:11 PM
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Business, government, and community member Fred. J. Koehnen’s recently published memoir, “Been There Done That Back to Hilo,” fills in the details of his nearly full-century life.

Koehnen was born on the Big Island and is a known leader in the community and through busines. His life has taken him far and wide, but has always boomeranged back to his hometown.

The Lyman Museum will honor the 91-year-old Koehnen at a dinner on Sunday, Sept. 27 at Nani Mau Gardens, and as a member of the museum’s board, Koehnen is donating proceeds from his memoir to the museum.

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“Lyman Museum is a great repository of history, particularly of Hawai’i Island, so it’s fitting that Fred’s book becomes part of the museum’s legacy,” said Richard Henderson, chairman of the Lyman board.


Throughout the book, historical tales and images of the Big Island from decades of history include pre- World War II, statehood, the rise and fall of King Sugar, and the transformation of East Hawai’i following tsunamis.


Koehnen is the son of German immigrants, and saw both the glory of the 1936 Olympics and the shame of Adolf Hitler’s pre-war Germany. He was active in both World War II and Vietnam, and a member of active or reserved service for 31 years.

Those who are not immediately aware of Koehnen and his wide-spread accomplishments may recognize his name from F. Koehnen, Ltd. and the landmark Koehnen’s Building in Hilo, which previously housed a furniture and gift store for decades. The building belonged to Fred’s father, Friederich Koehnen, who came to Hilo in 1909 as an apprentice to the Hackfield and Company trading firm.

“We’re very pleased to be able to honor Fred and his contributions, both to our community and to the country,” said Barbara Moir, president and executive director of Lyman Museum.  “He’s been instrumental in building the museum’s base.  And as you’ll discover in his memoir, he’s also a heck of a writer!”


Koehnen’s memoir can be purchased at the Lyman Museum’s gift shop for $20.

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