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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 20, 2002

Writer Wyatt led simple life

 •  Man charged in Ala Wai death

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writer

Jack Wyatt gave up his long pants, button-down shirts, bow ties, dress shoes, crewcut and full-time sales job about 30 years ago for a simpler lifestyle, reflected in the red, white or yellow tanktops, shorts, and slippers or athletic shoes sans socks that became his standard wardrobe.

Jack Wyatt is remembered as free-spirited and happy.
Tanned, healthy and looking much younger than his 71 years, Wyatt took long daily walks and was a man many Manoa residents saw regularly but few knew. He was killed Tuesday in a random act of violence while walking alongside the Ala Wai Canal when he was shoved into the canal, hit his head on rocks and drowned.

"I will remember him, not by the way he died, but by the way he lived," said Connie Comiso-Fanelli, a Manoa resident and longtime running friend of Wyatt. "He decided (at a point in his life) not to have a phone, car or TV and just enjoy life simply.

"He ate fresh fruits and went for walks," she added. "He was a free-spirited, happy man who did not want to be caught up with the crazy things in life. I've never heard him say a negative word about anyone."

Wyatt, a free-lance writer, was a regular contributor to the Ho-nolulu Star-Bulletin's sports section from the late 1960s to 1998. He wrote a weekly yachting column called "Nautical Notes" during his "bow-tie" days. After adopting his new lifestyle following a divorce, Wyatt became a champion of minor sports.

He accepted assignments no one else wanted. He was also known to be always for the underdog and would cover anything he could walk or ride his bicycle to. Those back-page stories in the early years of running and canoe racing meant a lot to people like Comiso-Fanelli, who first met Wyatt in 1978 at the Hilo Marathon.

"Jack was a very private person," Comiso-Fanelli said. "He had a past and wanted it to remain in the past.

"For me, he was like a father figure," she added. "He brought a lot of sunshine and brightness into the lives of a lot of people, in and outside of the local running community."

A native of Portland, Ore., Wyatt came to Hawai'i in 1957 and became a member of the Kaneohe Yacht Club. He had four daughters — Christine, who lives in Alaska; Cheryl Ferreira, an O'ahu resident, and Jackie Greene and Jonnel Wyatt of Maui — but did not maintain close ties with them.

"He was never one to keep in touch and being on Maui, I haven't seen him for a while," said Jonnel Wyatt, the youngest daughter. "He was not like a father figure for me, but I did get to know him. My friend and I sometimes stayed with him. He was a good guy, free-spirited and an avid tennis player."

Comiso-Fanelli last saw Wyatt at about 8:30 a.m. on Sunday while running alongside the Ala Wai Canal.

"He was like clockwork with his routine," she said. "For us in the running community, his death makes us aware that we need to be alert of what is around us at all times and know how to protect ourselves."

Services for Wyatt are pending.