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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, September 11, 2006

BOB KRAUSS | 1924-2006
Krauss' tales sailed on Pacific breezes

 •  Krauss told Hawai'i's stories for 55 years

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Staff Writer

Krauss, left, and television personality Kini Popo take a Windward tour with a mule.


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Krauss stands next to an Easter Island statue after accompanying the Hokule'a to Rapa Nui.


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Krauss autographs a copy of his book “Bob Krauss’ Travel Guide to the Hawaiian Islands” for United Airlines flight attendant Barbara Hartnett. Five hundred copies were air shipped to Hawaiçi and sold at Liberty House stores, where Krauss held autograph parties.


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Krauss added this "new" telephone to his office in 1966. His office, decorated back then in 1890 style, welcomed the addition of the old-fashioned brass candlestick phone, which was found in New York.


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White shorts and white shoes followed canoes, rafts, ships and legends

Bob Krauss was the journalist any young kid and a fair number of older writers aspired to be.

He wrote the stories that charmed people's hearts. He could make them laugh, and cry. Nod knowingly or shake their heads in wonderment. Sit up in anger, and open up their wallets for a cause.

He chronicled the activities of the characters of our Pacific. He wrote about adventurers and adventures, and became enmeshed with and in them.

A few years ago, I sat on the sand inspecting the lashing on a traditional Marshallese lagoon sailing canoe on the island of Majuro and the canoe's owner came up. When I mentioned I was from Hawai'i, he asked if I knew Bob Krauss. This year, on Rapa Nui/Easter Island, when I mentioned I was a writer from Hawai'i, I was again asked if I knew Krauss.

For more than half a century, Krauss has been an icon, chronicling his beloved Pacific.

My favorite Krauss story is one of the oldest, dating to 1954, seven years after Thor Heyerdahl had steered a balsa raft from South America to the Tuamotus to attempt to prove Polynesians came from the East.

Krauss and the Honolulu TV character Kini Popo sailed a raft down the Ala Wai, to prove that the rich yachties in the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor had originated in modest Kapahulu.

All at once, he managed to poke fun at Heyerdahl, at rich folks, at early archaeology and, of course, at himself.

Krauss helped organize a series of marches around islands in Hawai'i and Tahiti, accompanying missionary descendants on those walks and following the paths of early missionaries to document how the islands had changed.

He was a confidant and later biographer of famed Pacific archaeologist Kenneth Emory, and it was through the lens and the pen of Bob Krauss that Emory and his associate archaeologist, Yoshi Sinoto, taught Pacific anthropology to the people of Hawai'i.

The man loved the waterfront. He wrote and spoke about it constantly. He loved the ocean, and ships and the men and women who built their lives around them. When Krauss saw Hawai'i's waterfront traditions disappearing, he stepped in personally and launched campaigns to save its special features.

He helped bring the historic ship Falls of Clyde to Honolulu. He was a founding member of the Hawai'i Maritime Center. He was chairman of the first Ho-nolulu Harbor Festival.

A couple of years ago, when he helped launch a fundraising effort to pay off the Maritime Center's mortgage, the first $100,000 came from Krauss himself. The center's quarterly news-letter was largely written by Krauss, and he personally paid to have it printed. It was just another vehicle for telling the story of Honolulu's waterfront.

He was a staunch friend of the voyaging canoe Hokule'a, wrote about it, sailed on it.

With Bob Krauss, the sense of journalistic distance from his topic, of neutrality, didn't exist. When he did a story, he jumped in with both feet. He wasn't perfect. Krauss was notorious for misspelling the names of people and things, but the sense you got was that his focus was on the story — the story was what mattered.

He wrote about what he loved, and loved what he wrote about. In addition to his newspaper work, Krauss penned at least a dozen books and numerous other publications. There are children's books, histories, biographies, travel books and, of course, maritime books.

Bob Krauss was a genuine character.

Stepping into his office had a sense of time warp. The koa rocker, the hala mat, the old phone, the old books, the old pictures. Krauss himself fit right in, often attired in his uniform of short pants, tall socks and white shoes.

He could have been the Honolulu waterfront reporter in any age, and in a sense, he was the voice of all the ones who came before.

Reach Jan TenBruggencate at jant@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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