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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 21, 2003

Hawai'i historian Jim Bartels dies

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser Staff Writer

Jim Bartels, former Washington Place director, historian and 'Iolani Palace general manager, died last night in a Southern California hospital.

Before his work at Washington Place, Jim Bartels headed 'Iolani Palace operations as managing director for more than 20 years.

Advertiser library photo • March 18, 1996

Bartels died of cancer at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, Calif., where he had been flown from Honolulu in January, said former first lady Vicky Cayetano. Services will be held in Honolulu at St. Andrew's Cathedral, next to Washington Place, she said.

As director of Washington Place, Bartels worked with Cayetano on a plan to turn the historic home into a museum. The idea was to build new living quarters for the governor adjacent to the main house.

Gov. Linda Lingle retained Bartels as director of Washington Place.

Washington Place, a 154-year-old building that was home to Queen Lili'uokalani and 13 territorial and state governors, would still be used for state dinners and official functions, but would be open daily for guided tours.

Before his work at Washington Place, Bartels headed 'Iolani Palace operations as managing director for more than 20 years until his resignation in 1998.

Just yesterday, Cayetano said she was flipping through the booklet Bartels put together on the plans for Washington Place.

"Jim Bartels made Washington Place come alive," she said. "That is his most wonderful legacy.

"He was a living treasure. So much knowledge about Hawaiiana and such a giving heart. I learned so much from him. He was a very good person."

Bartels' work was interrupted by his illness, which was diagnosed in December, Cayetano said.

"What he did here at Washington Place was to make it possible for Washington Place to be shared with the people," Cayetano said. "He emphasized that sharing of the history with the public. He wanted to open the second floor to the public; that's where (governors) used to reside.

"We feel very strongly that he left behind his ideas and what he saw. We are going to make that happen, not only as a memorial to the Queen but to Jim."

Reach Suzanne Roig at sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com or 395-8831.