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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, January 16, 2005

Six named Living Treasures

Advertiser Staff

This year's recipients of the Living Treasures of Hawai'i awards will be honored at a Feb. 4 banquet at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.

The honorees are: Dr. Isabella Aiona Abbott, Gabriel "Gabe" Baltazar Jr., Momi Cazimero, Dr. Thomas Klobe, Sione Tui'one Pulotu and Dr. Benjamin B.C. Young. The awards are made by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai'i.

"These living treasures have demonstrated excellence and have met very high standards of achievement in their particular field of endeavor and, thus, have made a significant difference toward the betterment of our community," Bishop Chikai Yosemori of the mission said in a written statement announcing the 30th annual selections.

"When I see what our honorees have done, I somehow feel that, directly or indirectly, their works are in accordance with nature," Yosemori said. "I believe that taking care of natural resources is the first step toward achieving a more humane world. It is vital for us to think and act judiciously to preserve the environment for the welfare of all beings."

Tickets at $50 per person are still available. Call 522-9204 for reservations.

The 2005 honorees:

Dr. Isabella Aiona Abbott

Dr. Isabella Aiona Abbott. The 85-year-old researcher and author of more than 150 scientific papers and eight books is regarded as the world's foremost expert on the taxonomy of marine algae, or limu, in Hawaiian waters. A native of Hana, Maui, she attended Kamehameha School for Girls and became the first Native Hawaiian woman to earn a doctorate. She also was the first woman faculty member in the biological sciences department at Stanford University, where she is a professor emerita. A University of Hawai'i professor for more than 19 years, her knowledge played a key role in the revival of Hawaiian culture through the protection of traditional plants and perpetuation of ancient knowledge about their cultivation and use. As a commissioner for the revitalization of Kaho'olawe, she has been instrumental in doubling the plant life on the island since its demilitarization. She still is an active researcher at UH and Bishop Museum, where she serves on the board of directors.

Gabriel "Gabe" Baltazar Jr.

Gabriel "Gabe" Baltazar Jr. The Hilo, Hawai'i, native and 1998 Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner is recognized as one of the world's great alto saxophone players. He gained fame as a featured soloist with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, with whom he recorded 18 albums. He also recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter, Cannonball Adderly, Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars, James Moody and the Saxophone Stars, and the Oliver Nelson Orchestra, among others. His recorded version of "Stairway to the Stars" is considered by many critics to be the definitive interpretation of that jazz standard. Baltazar has performed with Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Jerry Lewis, Don Ho, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Martin Denny. He served as Royal Hawaiian Band deputy director for 17 years.

Momi Cazimero

Momi Cazimero. The Big Island native from Pepe'ekeo worked her way through school from age 12 and went on to found Graphic House in 1972, the first woman-owned design firm in Honolulu. A community leader and advocate for the arts, she has devoted herself to the preservation and perpetuation of Hawaiian culture as director for the Friends of Hawai'i Charities, Aloha Festivals, the Hawai'i Visitors and Convention Bureau, Hale Kipa, Historic Hawai'i Foundation and Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce. She is a longtime trustee for the Queen's Health System, the Queen Emma Foundation and The Queen's Medical Center, and former chairwoman of the Bishop Museum Association, a University of Hawai'i Regent and UH Foundation trustee. Her other board and commission service includes the State Judicial Selection Committee, Hawai'i Judicial Evaluation Panel, Hawai'i State Foundation for Culture and The Arts, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Maui Culture and Arts Center, and Kaua'i Arts Society.

Dr. Thomas Klobe

Dr. Thomas Klobe. An art professor at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa since 1977, Klobe was one of the founders and project coordinator of an international art exchange program in 1986 called "Crossings," which emphasized Hawai'i's ancient and profound connections with other countries and cultures through touring art exhibits. The first "Crossings" exhibit resulted in an extensive art and cultural exchange between Hawai'i and Japan. In 1997, Klobe arranged for 24 cultural organizations to present the work of 28 contemporary French artists in Hawai'i and in 2003, the "Crossings" project brought the work of 56 artists from the Korean Peninsula to all of Honolulu's major art museums, commemorating the 100th anniversary of Korean immigration to the United States. A native of Young America, Minn., Klobe was instrumental in establishing the new Hawai'i State Art Museum.

Sione Tui'one Pulotu

Sione Tui'one Pulotu. A self-taught woodcarver who is the principal builder of the Polynesian Cultural Center's Hawaiian Village, which includes the pili grass thatching roofs, once considered a lost art form. Born in Lifuka, Ha'apai, Tonga, Pulotu has crafted different canoes representing every Polynesian society at PCC. His highly intricate tiki carvings as well as other wood works are displayed throughout the cultural center and state. In 1964, he assisted Brother Ortho Fairbanks in making the duplicate statue of Kamehameha on display in Washington, D.C. In 1999, he was commissioned to build a 105-foot-long canoe named "Mileniume" by Tonga's King Tupou. In 2000, he was commissioned to build the 57-foot-long Wa'a Kaulua Hawaiian canoe named "Iosepa" for BYU-Hawai'i's Jonathan Napela Center for Hawaiian Language and Culture.

Dr. Benjamin B.C. Young

Dr. Benjamin B.C. Young. A minister, physician and psychiatrist, the Honolulu native is a Hawaiian renaissance man, committed to the rejuvenation of Hawaiian culture, relearning and rewriting Hawaiian history and to improving the health and well-being of Hawaiians. The first Native Hawaiian to graduate with a medical degree from Howard University Medical School in Washington, D.C., Young served as dean of students at UH's John A. Burns School of Medicine and became UH's vice president of student affairs. He served as chief of staff at Castle Medical Center and in 1973, established the "Imi Ho'ola" program, a special one-year curriculum to help Native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander students learn pre-med science courses to gain admission to medical school. Sixty percent of the students from the program qualified for medical school. Young is executive director of the Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence at the John A. Burns School of Medicine and helped secure a $4.6 million grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to create an endowed chair in Hawaiian medical research. In 1971, he helped form the Polynesian Voyaging Society and served as the onboard physician for Hokule'a's maiden voyage to Tahiti in 1976.