Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nation's first Filipino mayor dies in Hawaii

Advertiser Staff

Eduardo Enabore Malapit, attorney, lawmaker and mayor of Kaua'i during a critical period in its development, died Monday. He was 74.

He was born on Kaua'i on April 6, 1933, and was raised in Hanapepe. He played football for Waimea High School and the University of Hawai'i. He was a staunch supporter of Pop Warner football, active in Jaycees and other community organizations.

A former prosecuting attorney and lifelong Democrat, Malapit served eight years on the Kaua'i County Council and in 1974 was elected mayor. He was the nation's first mayor of Filipino descent.

As mayor, he was in some ways a hands-on leader, keeping a pair of firefighting boots behind a curtain in his mayoral offices so he could respond effectively to emergencies. In other situations, he readily delegated authority.

"He told us guys who were his Cabinet, 'If you have to make a decision, make it. If it's going to be controversial, run it by me so I'm not surprised by it,'" said his longtime friend, campaign coordinator and administrative assistant, Cayetano "Sonny" Gerardo.

Malapit's four terms in office were a difficult period for the county, since they coincided with the massive community controversy over the Nukoli'i development. A pipe bomb severely damaged his office during that battle, and the perpetrator was never caught.

Gerardo said the Malapit administration's high points were its attention to parks and recreation program development. The Kapa'a Ball Park was one of the facilities developed during his administration.

Longtime Kaua'i newsman Bill Dahle remembers Malapit as "a class act."

"He was just cool. Very easy to talk to and not at all pretentious. He was a no-nonsense kind of guy with a kolohe sense of humor," Dahle said.

He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; sons, Kevin, Lon, Kent and Lyle; sisters, Julia Smith and Lorraine Lo; brothers William, Mark, Earl and Noel; four grandchildren; nieces and nephews.

Viewing 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 15 at St. Raphael's Church in Koloa; funeral 1 p.m.