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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:10 p.m., Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Former GOP head Randolph Crossley dead at 99

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Randolph A. Crossley, the long-time Honolulu Republican and self-made millionaire who failed three times to become Hawai'i's governor, died yesterday at a retirement home in Monterey, Calif. He was 99.

Businessman Randolph A. Crossley, who moved to Hawai‘i with his wife, Florence, in 1929, died yesterday at the age of 99.

Advertiser library photo • 1974

Crossley was born in Cupertino, Calif. in July 1904. He and his wife, Florence, moved to Hawai'i in 1929 and founded the first of many businesses, Crossley Advertising.

From 1930 to 1934, he was head of the Hawaiian Tuna Packers, but went broke during the Depression.

He then switched to farming on Kaua'i where he helped pineapple processors and headed the Hawaiian Fruit Packers cannery firm. Other business ventures included Crossley Construction, Aloha Stamp Co., Crossley Flowers and Pacific Savings and Loan.

Crossley was said to be a conservative Republican who believed in traditional values such as hard work, ambition and respect for one's elders. Even though he often told people to "call me Randy," his approach was usually business-like.

Crossley's first chance to become governor came in 1953 when recently elected President Eisenhower nominated him to lead the Territory of Hawai'i.

But political infighting in the Senate forced his nomination to be withdrawn.

Crossley ran again in 1966 and came within 3,500 votes of defeating the Democratic team of John A. Burns and Thomas P. Gill.

In May 1974, Crossley stepped forward when the Republican Party had no other candidates for governor. Crossley was 70 at the time, an age some considered a liability. He ran with Ben F. Dillingham, but lost to George Ariyoshi.

Crossley had other elected offices and political posts through the years.

He represented Kaua'i in the Hawai'i House of Representatives from 1943 to 1945. He led the Republican Party and served as a state senator from 1959 to 1964. He also was a delegate to the first state Constitutional Convention in 1950.

Crossley retired to Pebble Beach, Calif. in 1977 after the bankruptcy of The Hawaii Corp., a business he led.

Crossley's only child, Meredith Young of Aloha, Oregon, said her father never lost his love for Hawai'i even though he was retired and living on the Mainland. He would often lecture to community groups about Hawaiian history, she said.

"When he died, he was writing about the Hawai'i monarchs," she said. "He loved the Hawaiian people and he loved Hawai'i."

The book was never published.

She called him "a man with many hats" who was always up-to-date on current events.

"I remember every night at the dining room table we discussed every current event that happened in the world that day," she said. "Dinners were very formal."

She said her father's interest in the governorship stemmed from the failed Eisenhower appointment. But her mother didn't approve.

"He ran for governor a couple of times and came close, but my mother's heart was never in that, so he finally let it go," Young said. "She supported him but she was never a political wife like you see now."

Crossley's mind remained sharp almost until the end, his daughter said.

"He was very alert and remembered many details," she said. "He once said I'm already 100 because I was nine months in my mother's womb."

Crossley is survived by his daughter, Meredith, two granddaughters and four great-granddaughters.

Reach Mike Gordon at mgordon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8012.