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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 3, 2002

Blaisdell confidant killed in accident

Angel Maehara, a businessman and adviser to the late Mayor Neal S. Blaisdell, died Tuesday.

Advertiser library photo • Nov. 25, 1955

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writer

Angel Maehara, a prominent Hawai'i businessman and sportsman who was a trusted adviser to former Mayor Neal S. Blaisdell, was killed Tuesday in an industrial accident at Honolulu International Airport.

Maehara, 83, was owner-president of Air-Flo Express and Hawaiian Papaya Co., which had offices at the airport. He was also the former owner of the Asahi baseball team, which he purchased from Mackay Yanagisawa in 1955.

According to police, Maehara was walking on the 'Ewa Concourse Access Road near the Continental Airlines cargo area shortly before 4 p.m. when he was struck by a forklift carrying a large container. Police Lt. William Kato said the 21-year-old man operating the forklift was driving forward, rather than reverse, and his vision may have been blocked by the container.

Maehara was taken to Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 4:53 p.m.

Police are awaiting autopsy findings before turning the case over to a state agency, most likely the Occupational Safety & Health Division, for further investigation, said Kato.

"He was very proud of the Asahi team and his close association with Mayor Blaisdell," attorney Eric Maehara said of his father.

Maehara was an influential political insider during Blaisdell's tenure as Honolulu mayor from 1955 to1969 although he held no official administrative position. Maehara managed all of Blaisdell's grassroots mayoral campaigns.

"Angel was such a good friend to my family and very loyal to my father," said Marilyn Ane, the youngest of Blaisdell's two children. "He coordinated all the campaign work but always stayed in the background after elections."

A Pu'unene, Maui native, Maehara received the Chuck Leahey Memorial Award in 1990 for his contributions to local baseball as owner of the Asahi, Hawai'i's most storied senior league team.

"He was never given enough credit for spreading international goodwill through baseball," said Aloha Stadium general manager Eddie Hayashi, a former Asahi player and coach. "He took the Asahi to the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Okinawa and Japan."

In 1974, Asahi recorded the biggest win in its franchise history by upsetting Cuba, 5-3, before 25,000 people in Tokyo.

Angel was the brother of Maui baseball legend Ichiro "Iron" Maehara, the late Los Angeles Dodgers scout who signed Sid Fernandez and Onan Masaoka.

In addition to his son Eric, Maehara is survived by his wife, Mary; other sons Marc and John; daughters Carol Takeuchi, Mona Maehara and Lois Tanaka; 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Private services are planned.