HONOLULU (KHON2) — Full of aloha, a master communicator and a force of personality. That is how friends describe former Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi, who succumbed to a battle with cancer on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at the age of 52. Kenoi leaves behind his wife Takako and his three children.
Kenoi worked closely with fellow former Mayor of Honolulu Mufi Hannemann, Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares and Kauai County Mayor Bernard Carvalho to form the Hawaii Council of Mayors.
“There was never a dull moment with Billy Kenoi,” Hannemann said. “I feel very very privileged to have known him as closely as I did. And we stayed in touch and 19 no one can really understand or appreciate the struggles he went through physically, so that he could be here as long as he could for Takako, and his children.”
A talented orator, Kenoi was known for legendary inspirational speeches.
“With that kind of speech coming from a boy from Kalapana it’s a blessing that we had him for this amount of time,” Hawaii County mayoral candidate Ikaika Marzo said.
His way of delivering a message allowed him to communicate with an array of people.
“He connected with you here just had this unique ability to weave in and out of pigeon, speak that perfect flawless English when he had to crack a joke or two. Of course with that infectious smile that you could feel miles, miles away,” Hannemann said.
Just last Friday, Kenoi went for lunch with friends, including County Council Cember Aaron Chung.
“I would never have known that that would have been the last time I would see Billy because he was just as sharp and witty and funny and engaging and entertaining,” Chung said.
Marzo will remember his wisdom the most.
“He said hey, work hard with aloha and you will succeed win or loose people will love you,” Marzo said.
Chung believes Kenoi’s lasting impact lies in those that grew up like him from humble roots of Kalapana, which launched him to get a law degree and later become mayor.
“To me, his legacy is that he was an inspiration to all people from blessed and unfortunate circumstances that anything is possible,” Chung said.