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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 9, 2002

Henry Ayau memorial fund-raiser set for May 30

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

A fund-raiser for the late Henry Ayau Jr. is scheduled for May 30 at Don Ho's Island Grill with proceeds going toward an annual canoe race or surfing meet in Ayau's name, his brother said.

Henry Ayau Jr., who may have suffered a stroke before he was rescued May 1, died in the hospital yesterday at age 61.

Advertiser library photo • 1992

Ayau, an experienced waterman and prominent figure in the local entertainment scene, died yesterday morning at Straub Clinic and Hospital, said his brother Butch. Ayau was 61.

The fund-raiser, scheduled for 3 to 8 p.m., will be a celebration to honor Ayau at the request of Don Ho, said Adam Suapaia, general manager of Don Ho's Island Grill.

"In the eyes of Don Ho, Henry was an icon," Suapaia said. "Henry's wish was to have a party where we would celebrate and not mourn his death."

Ayau was a paddler and coach for the Outrigger Canoe Club for nearly 50 years. He earned the club's highest honor, the Winged O, in 1983.

In 1977, Ayau and three friends, known as "The Four Hawaiians," founded the Hui Lanakila Canoe Club.

Ayau was also an elite free-dive spearfisherman and served as a general manager at the old Duke Kahanamoku's in Waikiki in the 1960s, the same place where Don Ho got his big start. Recently, Ayau was the senior host at Don Ho's Island Grill.

Friends described Ayau as "Mr. Aloha" and the "perfect Hawaiian gentleman."

"He made everyone so happy," said his brother Butch. "He touched so many people. He got along with everyone. In my case, he was my big brother and my good friend."

On May 1, Ayau went for an afternoon Waikiki swim and he was later found floating in shallow water offshore of the Elks Lodge just before 5 p.m.

Rescuers carried Ayau to shore and administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation and shocked him once with an automatic external defibrillator.

Ayau may have been in the water anywhere from five to 20 minutes and a doctor said he may have suffered a stroke, according to his brother.

Ayau is survived by his mother, Mabel; sisters, Dana and Lana; brothers, Butch and Ronnie; sons, Bruce, David and Patrick; and daughters, Kathy and Leslie.

Funeral arrangements are pending.