Kupuna Life: A woman with a fierce green thumb

Kupuna Life

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Her name is Beadie, has been since she was a kid, when she picked up a “fierce” green thumb from her mom, growing up in Nuuanu, where she still lives.

“When my mother said, ‘Beatrice,’ I knew I was in trouble. So it’s not a name I use with a great deal of pleasure,” said Kama’aina of the Year Beadie Kanahele Dawson. “When they told me I couldn’t grow roses in Nu’uanu, that’s all the incentive I needed. Watch me, I’m gonna do it!”

That’s Beadie…Fierce. You can learn a lot about her on a stroll through her garden.

“I do like orderliness in my planting. I like it informal but I like it orderly as well,” she said. “I think I was a yardman in a previous life, I do. I don’t know who I worked for but I think I was a yardman.”

But lucky for many, she wasn’t, she chose to be an attorney.

Beadie showed us her kukui tree that she says, “that was planted by some of the Kamehameha alums that I worked with when we were in the middle of incredible controversies.”

That was more than 20 years ago when this kukui tree was 10 inches tall. When Beadie joined students, parents, and alumni of Kamehameha Schools in a march, calling for then-trustees to be held accountable, Beadie ended up working pro bono. She helped them incorporate the non-profit, Na Pua a Ke Ali’i Pauahi, and represented it, leading to a fight that leads to the Broken Trust, a turnover of trustees and major change.

“My parents were always helping people that needed help or that were in trouble. That is second nature to me and my life has been lead that way. Whether I’m with a group that is helping a certain area of the community or another group dealing with problems, that’s where I am.”

In 1965, Beadie saw a termite-infested Iolani Palace in deep need of care She initiated its restoration, drumming up support from the Junior League and others. She became a founding member of the Friends of Iolani Palace, one of more than a hundred boards and groups she’s served on and helped.

“I’ve been so blessed,” she said. “I’ve had so many opportunities that have been given to me and I’ve been blessed by the ability to answer those opportunities. To look at them, not let them pass by silently or without any response.”

“My grandma and my mom by extension, so warm and open and inviting, always, people were in trouble you never say no, people needed something you never turn your back,” said Beadie’s daughter Donne Dawson.

What one might call Hawaiian values, this mother of four, imparts them on her children, in her work, in her role as president of her family’s non-profit Hawaiian Native Corporation, and still as a member of many organizations, like the US Institute of Environmental Conflict Resolution.

“The beauty that we have in our culture is not just for us, part of our job is to share it and to tell people about it and let them learn about it,” said Beadie. “And we are doing it. We are doing it right now. We are in the process of growing our love of sharing our love and showing people kapu aloha.”

And so no, her work is not done.

“I don’t feel that retirement is a very attractive word. I love being involved.”

While also finding recreation, respite, peace, joy in her garden, and as the rain begins to fall on her favorite rose, you see her glass is not half-full.

It’s overflowing.

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