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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mourners remember Frank Fasi, Honolulu’s longest-serving mayor

By Dan Nakaso and Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writers

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The flag-draped casket of Frank Fasi enters the courtyard of Honolulu Hale for a memorial service for the late mayor.

BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The public stands outside City Hall to watch monitors of the private service for Frank Fasi.

RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Children of the late Frank Fasi, listen to a musical tribute to the former mayor during the memorial service at Honolulu Hale today. The Fasi children, from left, Paul, Francesca, Kathleen and Toni from his first marriage, then Sal, Gioia, David, Gina, Frank Jr. and Charles sitting near Joyce, Fasi's second wife.

BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Six Marine Corps pallbearers removed the casket of former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi from a white hearse this morning for a service for the former Marine.

Mourners stood silently as Mayor Mufi Hannemann and his wife, Gail, stood at the entrance of Honolulu Hale with their hands over their hearts as Fasi’s casket passed.
Hannemann hugged Fasi’s widow, Joyce, as she followed Fasi’s casket inside with her children: six of from their marriage, and four others Fasi had had with his first wife.
The interior of Honolulu Hale was covered in blue carpet for the 10 a.m. service, which included only family and invited guests.
Fasi, Honolulu’s longest-serving mayor, died of natural causes at his Makiki home on Feb. 24 at the age of 89. His tenure as mayor stretched 22 years.
Tomorrow at 11 a.m., a motorcade carrying Fasi’s casket will travel from Nu'uanu Memorial Park & Mortuary onto South King Street to allow Fasi's casket to pass by Honolulu Hale and the Frank F. Fasi Municipal Building.
The motorcade will then proceed mauka on Alapa'i Street, 'ewa on Beretania Street, mauka on Queen Emma Street and head directly to Punchbowl.
Fasi will be buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. Services are private.
This morning, the official portrait of the mayor stood next to Fasi’s casket, which sat beneath a blue carpet bearing the seal of Honolulu.
Members of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I and Kaahumanu Society began the service at Honolulu Hale with a song.
Fasi was an honorary member of the Royal Order. And as the group sang, a city bus on King Street spontaneously honked.
Aaron Mahi, the former long-time director of the Royal Hawaiian Band, sang “The Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha.”
All nine City Council members were in the front row, along with the mayor, Gail Hannemann and Managing Director Kirk Caldwell. Other attendees included former Congressman Neal Abercrombie, state senators Donna Kim and Colleen Hanabusa, former Gov. Ben Cayetano and his wife, Vicky; former Councilman Toraki Matsumoto, former City Clerk Denise DeCosta.
Fasi’s son, Charles, began the eulogy by describing Fasi’s hard-scrabble beginning in Hartford, Conn., collecting coins off of train tracks, shining shoes and picking cotton.
“He never forgot that he once was the little guy,” Charles said. “Despite a learning discipline and a stutter, my dad became a straight A student” and played football, basketball and ran track.
After World War II, Fasi yearned to return to Hawaiçi, where he had been stationed.
“He returned to Hawaiçi for good,” Charles said.
He founded a company, selling quonsut huts for housing.
“My father was involved in Hawaii politics for nearly 60 years and few remember that his first campaign for mayor was in 1952,” Charles said.
“When a strike kept the grass in front of City Hall from being mowed, he cut it,” Charles said. “ ... He even used bus drivers to keep them from going on strike during the Christmas holidays.”
Charles said he and his siblings grew up in City Hall, making trouble on the second floor. In all, Fasi had 11 children.
Fasi described his father’s flare for fashion, which included cowboy boots, Italian shoes and his trademark overalls.
“Some would say he was stubborn and bull-headed,” Charles said. “I wish there were more like him. ... Like a true Marine, my father never left anyone behind.”
“For sharing his life with us, I’d like to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Mayor.’”
Ed Hirata, a former state and city official, told the mourners that he met Fasi in 1968 after Fasi won the mayor's race and recruited Hirata as the director of the Building Department and later Fasi's transportation director.
“He was an energetic mayor who wanted to make Honolulu the best city in the country,” Hirata said.
Fasi gave the city open markets, satellite halls and an efficient bus system, Hirata said.
He called Fasi a dreamer who had an inquisitive mind.
“He wasn’t afraid of anyone who stood in the way of his goal to get the job done,” Hirata said. “... Mayor Fasi had a propensity for action and he had it in spades. He wanted to get things done and get them done fast.”
Hirata called Fasi Honolulu’s greatest mayor.
“Good luck in your quest to make heaven a better place,” Hirata said.
Hannemann then thanked the Fasi family for allowing the city to honor “the greatest mayor Honolulu has ever had,” who transformed City Hall.
As a child growing up in Kalihi, Hannemann said Kalihi was “Fasi Country.”
As a school-body basketball player, Hannemann remembered Fasi watching basketball games wearing his trademark turtle neck sweater and blazer.
At Iolani School, Hannemann finally spoke to the mayor for the first time. Fasi told young Hannemann, “Young man, I pay a lot of money to send my son to school. Do a good job.”
After he became mayor, Hannemann said he was privileged to receive advice from Fasi, who told Hannemann that a mayor always has to be available.
"If at the end of the day he felt it was the right thing to do, he would do it," Hannemann said. “... He stood tall always for the people.” 
When Fasi arrived in Honolulu, “lucky us,” Hannemann said. “He looked at every crisis as an opportunity to do better.”
Hannemann ended with a refrain from Fasi’s campaign song that included the phrase, “Put your mark by Mayor Fasi, Mayor Fasi, Mayor Fasi gets it done.”
Danny Kaleikini, who ran as lieutenant governor during Fasi’s unsuccessful gubernatorial run on the Best Party ticket, then appeared on the second-floor landing overlooking the casket, and sang, “My Way.”
Kaleikini then ended by saying, “Frank Fasi, you did it your way.”
Kaleikini then blew a kiss at Fasi’s casket.
Kawaihao Rev. Curt Kekuna then compared Fasi to Teddy Roosevelt charging up the hill in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“He was Moses incarnate,” Kekuna said. “... Nobody could argue that he had purpose, that he had direction.”
Kekuna then compared Fasi to King David “with an army behind him ... to fight for the common cause, not for gain or popularity but to benefit others. ... He served others. No one can dispute that our friend Frank Fasi was a servant, no matter what you thought. He wasn’t concerned with his reputation.”
“Mahalo Mr. Mayor for leading us in spite of the challenges. ... Mahalo for serving us. Even today all of us can see your tireless work on behalf of all of us.”
Singer Melveen Leed then blew kisses with Joyce Fasi before beginning a very slow version of “Kanaka Wai Wai," first in English then in Hawaiian.
The song is a prayer to "let me walk through paradise with you, Lord."
Mourners then stood and held hands as Leed and Kaleikini joined voices to sing, “Hawaiçi Aloha.”
Before delivering the benediction, Kekuna said Fasi was up in heaven “trying to have a good time. So we should be having a good time.”
“You give love and you make those around you succeeed,” Kekuna said. “Thank you for all that Frank has done for all of us.”
Leed and Kaleikini then lead mourners in a slow rendition of “Aloha Oe” and it’s refrain, “Until we meet again.”

You can leave your condolences for the Fasi family and share your favorite memory of Fasi in our Cover It Live section at http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/99999999/MOGULUS02/301070001&template=mogulus.