Librada Luis, leader among Filipinos, dead at 92
By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau
HILO, Hawai'i Librada Luis, 92, a longtime leader in the Big Island's Filipino community, died Tuesday at home after months of hospice care.
Luis was an early advocate for women, urging them to pursue their goals and seek leadership roles in the community, said former Hawai'i County Councilwoman Josephine De Luz.
"She spoke out, always. She was a character and she was a tremendous force," De Luz said. "She meant so much to Hilo. She helped so many young women. She had a big heart."
Luis was the 11th of 12 children born to a land-owning family in the Philippines. As one of 11 girls, she learned early how to fend for herself. After graduating from the University of the Philippines, Luis went to Chicago in the late 1930s to study for an advanced degree in library science under a Carnegie scholarship. It was there that she met her husband, Anastacio Luis, who died in 1997.
With the outbreak of World War II, the couple moved back to the Philippines, where Anastacio Luis was a scout for the U.S. Army. After the war, he served as a recruiter for the Hawai'i sugar industry, helping 6,000 Filipino laborers immigrate to the Islands.
The Luises settled on the Big Island in 1946. "She re-invented herself in Hilo," said their only child, Leilani Luis Wilson, a retired attorney in California. When her mother couldn't find a job as a librarian, she went into social work.
Rose Vierra, president of the 80-year-old Hilo Woman's Club, said Luis was "a strong leader" who served many terms as the group's historian as well as its president in 1964. She also helped develop the popular clubhouse on Lele Street.
Retired newswoman Maxine Hughes described Luis as someone who never hid her beliefs and who demanded that women step up to the plate long before it was fashionable.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced. Wilson said she is planning a memorial service for mid-May to allow out-of-state family members to attend. Dodo Mortuary is assisting with the arrangements.