Local Actor Brings History to Life at Kona Historical Society

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Dick Hershberger as Dr. Thomas A. Jaggar. PC: Kona Historical Society

Go back in time 80 years this February with Kona Historical Society.

KHS has announced Ka‘ū actor, playwright and director Dick Hershberger will be the featured speaker for the February installment of the Hanohano ‘O Kona Lecture Series.

Dr. Thomas A. Jaggar Lives On: A Historical Performance and Lecture begins promptly at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center Council Chambers.


Hershberger has been performing the critically acclaimed program, A Walk In The Past, at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park for more than seven years. He has acted in theatrical and film productions throughout the state. His latest play is slated for production in the Fall of 2020 in Vienna, Austria.

The time period for this performance will be December of 1940 when Jaggar is preparing to leave his home in Kealakekua and move to his new residence in the Mānoa Valley of O‘ahu, where he will be on staff at The University of Hawai‘i.

An overview of Jaggar’s 28-year tenure as founder and director of Hawai‘i Volcanoes Observatory will be presented, including several events that occurred from KĪlauea and Mauna Loa eruptions, as well as his thoughts about the federal bureaucracy and its mandated retirement age of 65.


“After witnessing firsthand the destruction caused by Mount Pelee on the Caribbean Island of Martinique in 1902, with the tragic loss of 29,000 lives, Dr. Jaggar determined that studying volcanic eruptions in an effort to prevent such a horrific loss of life would indeed be a worthwhile occupation for the balance of his working life,” Hershberger said. “The new experimental site occupying the summit of KĪlauea became one of the foremost observatories in the world and the work he initiated here continues on now, well over a century after its founding in 1912.”

For nearly a decade, Kona Historical Society has offered this community lecture series, spotlighting local and state speakers on a wide variety of cultural and historical subjects. The lectures are free of charge and open to all, residents and visitors alike. This lecture is generously sponsored by Kona Historical Society members Meg Greenwell and Janet Zeiger.

Kona Historical Society is currently looking for sponsors for this lecture series. This year, Kona Historical Society has launched the Hanohano ‘O Kona: Wahi Pana Lecture Series, consisting of a series of three lectures in the Spring that bring together distinguished speakers and award-winning musicians to share stories of Hawai‘i’s important landmarks, neighborhoods and ahupua’a in venues associated with these places.


Hawai‘i Tourism Authority is providing some funding for this special offshoot of the original series. Still, more financial assistance is needed. To make a donation, become a sponsor or learn more, call Kona Historical Society at 808-323-3222 or visit

Kona Historical Society is a community-based, nonprofit organization and Smithsonian Museum affiliate that has spent the past four decades collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the Kona districts and their rich cultural heritage within Hawai‘i. To get the latest updates regarding Kona Historical Society programs, historic sites and special events, “LIKE” Kona Historical Society on Facebook.

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