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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 22, 2010

Murray Luther, civic activist


by Suzanne Roig
Advertiser Staff writer

HAWAI'I KAI Residents can thank Murray Luther for the blue-and-white Hawai'i Kai entrance sign identifying the East Honolulu community.

And they can thank Luther for the mowed grassy patch of lawn between Keahole Street and Hawai'i Kai Drive fronting Kalaniana'ole Highway. He pushed for both as a way to create a sense of pride in his adopted community.

Luther, the unofficial mayor of Hawai'i Kai, died Tuesday. He was 94.

A community activist, Luther wasn't just an ideas kind of man when it came to making improvements to the community. He picked up rubbish and fed the homeless and elderly with the many service groups he belonged to, such as the Rotary Club, the Lions Club and the Junior Chamber of Commerce.

"I've always had the pick- and-shovel approach to life," Luther said in an interview nine years ago. "If you share and care, it will come back. Never miss an opportunity to admire life."

State Sen. Sam Slom, R-8th, (Kāhala, Hawai'i Kai) drafted a resolution praising Luther for his continued support of the community from attending monthly Neighborhood Board meetings, to getting the three main shopping centers in the community to work together on an advertising campaign.

"He was a man who volunteered to help whenever there was a problem," Slom said. "He always wanted to bring people together and have pride in East Honolulu."

Luther came to Hawai'i in 1976 after spending much of his life in Washington state, where he was a distributor for Rainier Brewery in Seattle. His first job was as a bellhop at the Olympic Hotel, and he helped organize the World's Fair in Seattle and Spokane in 1962 and 1974.

Luther loved Hawai'i Kai, said one of his daughters, Elaine McCrimmon.

If there was graffiti, he'd be the one to take a can of paint and remove it himself. If there was trash on the beach, he'd be the one to be involved in a cleanup.

"If Dad saw something that needed to be fixed, he'd fix it," McCrimmon said. "With the sign, he wanted everyone to know they had come to Hawai'i Kai."

Bob Deibler, a former president of the Pearl Harbor Rotary Club, where Luther was a former president and member, said that Luther was a devoted member.

"To me, he was an outstanding Rotarian and outstanding citizen of the community," Deibler said. "I have the utmost respect for him."

Luther is survived by his wife, Diane, and three daughters.

He wanted to have no memorial service but to be remembered quietly by his family, McCrimmon said.