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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 6, 2009

'Bunny' Brown led Hilo Hawaiians

By John Burnett
Hawaii Tribune-Herald

HILO, Hawai'i "Bunny" Brown, patriarch of one of Hawai'i's great music families, died at his Hilo home April 30 after a long illness. He was 90.

William Christopher Enoch "Bunny" Brown III was a singer-guitarist and leader of the Hilo Hawaiians, which included his cousins, Buddy and Thomas "Kihei" Desha Brown on 'ukulele, plus Edward "Mona" Kalima on stand-up bass and Arthur Kaua on steel guitar.

Their 1960 album "Honeymoon in Hawaii" was rated No. 34 in Honolulu magazine's list of the 50 Greatest Hawaii Albums of All Time. In 1963, Brown's sons Elson "Bobo" and Boyson joined the band. Later, Bunny Brown and Sons included eldest son Bill as well.

"He was very wonderful, kind and caring, especially for his family," Bobo Brown said. "We grew up with so much love that they gave all of us not just my sister, brothers and I, but his nieces, nephews and all that."

The nickname Bunny came from an uncle, said daughter Haunani Yorong, because "he was always hopping around. He had so much energy, he couldn't sit still."

In addition to playing venues such as the old Naniloa Hotel, Orchid Isle Hotel and King Kamehameha Hotel, the original Hilo Hawaiians traveled the world, playing in New York, Chicago, Europe, Japan and Australia, and at Seattle's 1962 World's Fair.

Brown was preceded in death by two wives. Bill Brown died in 2000.

Friends may call at Haili Congregational Church at 6 p.m. tomorrow for a wake service at 7 p.m. An all-night vigil will follow. The funeral is 10 a.m. Friday at the church, with cremation to follow. Casual attire is requested. Dodo Mortuary is handling arrangements.