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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Jay Landis, Wai'anae crusader, dead at 81

By Bob Krauss
Advertiser Staff Writer

Jay Landis, 81, a tireless crusader for Hawaiian causes on the Wai'anae Coast, died of pneumonia May 4 at St. Francis West Medical Center.

Unmarried and childless, Landis devoted half a century of his life to improvement of his community. A marina at Poka'i Bay, a public library, a sewage treatment plant and new beach parks came about partly because of his persistent effort.

Landis, a grandson of Link McCandless, a former delegate to Congress, contributed the first $500 to establish a Hawaiian language program at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo.

As a lifetime member of the Wai'anae Hawaiian Civic Club, he worked for the building of E'ala, a double canoe, now used as an educational tool. He was a founder of the Lualualei Lions Club and president of the Wai'anae Council, predecessor of the Wai'anae Neighborhood Board.

His cousin, Albert Silva, said Landis was asked many times to run for political office but always refused.

"He steered away from Hawaiian political issues," said Silva. "He concentrated on culture and education."

He often testified on Wai'anae Coast issues before the City Council.

An authority on Wai'anae Coast history, he was a major contributor to the book, "Historic Wai'anae." In the 1940s, he installed a screen in his back yard and showed free movies for Wai'anae Coast kids who couldn't afford the price of a movie-theater ticket.

Landis was born March 13, 1920, in San Francisco. At 12, he came to Hawai'i and lived with his aunt, Annie Silva, in Wai'anae in back of the police station. She became his guardian and raised him along with her own six sons.

After graduating from the eighth grade, Landis quit school and moved to Kalihi where he lived with another aunt while working in construction. About 1946, two of his Wai'anae cousins drove their Model-A Ford to Kalihi. When Landis came to the curb, a cousin said, "Jay, it's time to come home."

Landis went inside, packed a Pan American Airways flight bag and went back to Wai'anae where he lived after that, taking care of his aunt. "He was always proud of being Hawaiian, even when many Hawaiians weren't" said Silva. "He loved Wai'anae and its people."

He is survived by four first cousins and more than 30 second cousins.

Funeral services will be at 9 a.m., June 2, at Sacred Hearts Church in Wai'anae. Landis' ashes will be scattered off Poka'i Bay from the Hawaiian Civic Club canoe E'ala after the services.

The family requests no flowers. Donations may be sent to the Jay Landis Memorial Scholarship Fund, Hawaiian Studies, 87-164 Maliona Street, Wai'anae, HI 96792.