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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 10, 2006

John A.C. 'Babe' Chun, Hale'iwa store owner

 •  Obituaries

By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Staff Writer

John A.C. "Babe" Chun, longtime owner of Chun's Store & Market in Hale'iwa, died July 30 at his home. He was 70.

Chun was born June 19, 1936, in Waialua. He was the oldest of 13 children, graduating from Waialua High School in 1954. The school won Rural Oahu Interscholastic Association titles in three of the four years he played on the team, said daughter Jana Remson of Manhattan Beach, Calif.

After high school, Chun enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed in Newfoundland and California. He returned to Hale'iwa after his discharge, joining the family market founded in 1946 by his parents, John and Rachel Chun. He attended butcher school in Toledo, Ohio, so he could run the store's meat department, and in 1969 took over the entire business, a landmark in the North Shore community.

"In his heyday, the store had benches outside, and everybody would hang around and talk story. There was none of this 'no loitering' or 'go away,' just 'come and talk story,' " Remson said.

Longtime North Shore resident and former legislative aide Jimmy Awai said he first met Chun, who was large in physical stature, in the late 1950s and would often sit out on the benches and play cards with the store owner to keep him company.

"Everybody knew Babe Chun. When guys didn't have any money, he would scold them first (before letting them buy items on credit). You would think he was kind of rough because he was a big guy, but he had a big heart," Awai said.

He was a soft touch in other ways, recalled Remson, who said her father would take his three young daughters out to eat at the finest restaurants to teach them proper dining etiquette, and later instructed their husbands on how to make laulau, since he had no sons of his own.

"My dad could be comfortable in a three-piece suit but preferred shorts and a T-shirt. His only request was that his shirts have a pocket," she said.

Chun's Store & Market was downsized in recent years from a full-service grocery to selling cold drinks, beer and ice, and renting videos. Remson said it remains the only convenience store on Hale'iwa Road.

In the early 1990s, Chun began turning over day-to-day store operations to his youngest daughter, Janell, finally retiring in 1996. Remson said her father traveled the world, including an Alaskan cruise last year.

Chun owned other businesses over the years, including a gas station on Hale'iwa Road, a Hawaiian-food restaurant, and Casper's and Babe's Amusement, one of the North Shore's first pool halls. He also enjoyed fishing aboard the Jon-Rae and was an early participant in the annual Hanapa'a Fishing Tournament held in Hale'iwa, Remson said.

Kalani Fronda, a property manager with Kamehameha Schools and president of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, called the Chun clan a "piko" (longtime) family in the district. "The store was a jewel to the 'ohana and to Babe," whom Fronda called "a man that people in the North Shore community looked up to literally. A big man with a caring heart is the best way to describe him."

Chun also is survived by his wife, Karen Lemmo; another daughter, Jannine Ciraulo; bro-thers Robert, Francis, Richard, Ronald, Randolph and James; sisters Beverly Farr, Rochelle Ladao, Marlene Hutchinson, Karen Asato and Johnella Ne-moto; and three grandchildren.

Visitation will begin at 9 a.m. Aug. 27 at Mililani Mortuary's Mauka Chapel, with a service at 11 a.m. The family requests casual attire.

Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.