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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, April 20, 2001

Former Lewers and Cooke president James Lovell dead at 94

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

James W. Lovell, retired president of Lewers and Cooke, a decorated World War II veteran and former Hula Bowl coach, touched the lives of hundreds of people in Hawai'i as a teacher, coach, battalion leader and businessman, said his son, Ray Yokoyama.

Lovell died Sunday in Honolulu at the age of 94.

Lovell helped to mold the lives of students, athletes and young soldiers, said Yokoyama, and people remembered him as generous and helpful.

Yokoyama recalled an encounter with an old man last year while pushing his father in a wheelchair. The man spotted them, waited, and called out his name.

"I'm sure my father didn't recognize him," Yokoyama said. "But this guy was so touched by him that now as an old man he still remembered my father."

Lovell was born Feb. 6, 1907 in Hastings, Neb.

After graduating in 1930 from the University of Nebraska, where he was inducted into its Athletic Hall of Fame, Lovell accepted a job in Hawai'i teaching mechanical drawing at Washington Intermediate School.

At Washington he coached football, basketball and track.

In 1933 Lovell transferred to Roosevelt High School, where he taught and coached for six years.

At the time of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Lovell was in the Hawai'i National Guard, which had been activated 15 months earlier.

He became the second in command of the 100th Battalion, leading a group of mostly Nisei men into battle in Italy.

In accounts of Lovell's war experience, members of the 100th said he was gutsy, took care of "da boys" and was always on the front lines with his troops.

His combat record includes Purple Heart with cluster, Silver Star, Bronze Star with cluster, American, African, European and Asian Theater Medals, Victory Medal and Combat Infantry Badge.

After returning to civilian life, Lovell worked in the building and wood product supply industries.

He served as president of Lewers and Cooke, a major building company, working his way up from manager of the lumber and merchandise department.

He retired from Lewers and Cooke after 27 years. He then worked as executive director of the Wood Products Association of Hawai'i.

Lovell was involved in the financial settlement of Hawai'i Thrift and Loan and served as interim president of the now defunct Mid-Pacific Airlines.

He was active in his church and community and also served as president and director of Club 100.

Lovell is survived by his wife, Wilma Reiko (Odo); sons James Jr. and Yokoyama; daughter Maile-Gene Sagen; three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A service will be held at 9 a.m. next Friday at St. Andrew's Cathedral.