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Late Moe Keale inspired students, faculty
by Jaclynn Fasken, News editor

“What happens to the world after I leave is up to you guys,” said Moe Keale in what turned out to be one of the final public appearances of his life. In an April 9 event sponsored by the Press Club at HPU, just six days before his death on April 15, Keale addressed communication students and faculty about his life, his first death a year ago, and the meaning of aloha.
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Martha Noyes, a close friend of Keale and an HPU adjunct communication instructor who helped arrange Keale’s visit to the campus said: “Tuesday afternoon meant a lot, truly a lot, to Moe. He was so happy to have had the chance to share some of himself with the students who were there. He talked about the experience for days afterward, and recounting it brought tears to his eyes. Please let everyone who was there know that they gave Uncle Moe a great gift.”

A packed room of thrilled and captive listeners heard Keale’s insightful views on Hawai‘i as he passed along his cultural knowledge and wisdom by explaining the significance of aloha in the modern world.

Keale explained why aloha matters, how it is the key to world peace, and what the true sense of the powerful word is.

“Aloha means hello, goodbye, I love you, but it means much more. Aloha is not only a word to Hawaiians, it is a spiritual thing, something that lives,” Keale said.

He went on to explain, in a voice that was as peaceful and soothing as the concepts it explained, that every letter in the word “aloha” has a deeper meaning. The first A in aloha represents akahai, meaning kindness expressed in tenderness. The L represents lokahi, meaning unity, harmony and the O represents olu’olu meaning agreeable, content, happy. The H represents ha‘aha‘a meaning humility expressed with a feeling of modesty. The last A in aloha represents ahonui, meaning patience applied with perseverance.

“I have seen a lot of places but nowhere like Hawai‘i,” Keale said. “Everyday when I wake up I thank God I live in Hawai‘i.” He added that “Being Hawaiian, this place makes me special.”
Roughly a year ago, Keale collapsed of a heart attack while on a treadmill at 24-Hour Fitness, with his wife to the right of him and a doctor to the left, and a pair of policemen a few machines over.

he doctor and a high school coach who was nearby administered CPR, and the police officers provided a portable defibrillator, two electronic pads used to shock the heart to start beating again.
For seven and a half minutes, Keale had no heartbeat. The doctor informed Keale’s wife that because of the lengthy time without a heartbeat, he might have suffered brain damage. She said “no way,” Keale recounted. His heart did resume beating, and four days later he awoke with no brain damage, which was nothing short of a miracle.

During those seven and a half minutes Keale had an amazing, life-changing experience. He explained it as waking up with darkness surrounding him. “I couldn’t see anything,” he said. What happened next was like a needle poking holes through the darkness and light shooting through. He was in space floating, grabbing at what looked like stars.

He was then on a road that led to the top of a hill where a light was shining brightly. At the top he looked down and saw a 7-11 store that was full of people. As he tried to go in, out came nephew Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo‘ole, a Hawaiian musical legend who passed away on June 26, 1997.
Kamakawiwo‘ole told Keale he couldn’t come in, he had to go back because it wasn’t his time yet. Keale looked at his nephew and awoke in the hospital.

Since then, Keale worked with the American Heart Association raising more than $240,000, and raised the awareness of the need of defibrillators in the community. 24-Hour Fitness is installing them, and Keale was working to have them installed on the walls of the Honolulu International Airport.

Keale gave advice to students and faculty that not only motivated them, but inspired them as well. “You can not be anybody else. You can only be who you are,” he said. “Everyday when you wake up, look in the mirror and say you’re the best thing that happened to this planet.”

Since the 1970s, Keale has been about “sharing aloha and playing music.” He started working on the set of the hit TV show Hawaii 5-0 as an electrician but was approached by the casting director to play a character. Keale refused at first, but star Jack Lord wouldn’t take no for an answer. Keale worked on Hawaii 5-0 for five years, then went on to work on such shows as The Little People and Magnum P.I. He met Elvis in 1973 while filming Blue Hawai‘i. Keale described Elvis as “a nice person and a true blue country boy.”

“That’s what’s so cool, I got to work with all these actors,” Keale humbly said.

Keale started his career as a beach boy in Waikiki where he got to meet people from all over the world. Keale said he learned in those years what some don’t learn in a lifetime. “I grew up learning to respect,” he said, “not only family but everybody.” Words that everyone of us should live by, he implied.

Keale worked for The Royal Caribbean Cruise lines four times a year sailing from the mainland to the Islands, educating the fortunate passengers about Hawai‘i and its people. He described his time on the cruise line as “a part of aloha.”

Keale’s message to his grateful audience was that by experiencing life and all things ahead of you, it is up to you to decide what to choose. “What I share with you now, you can share with wherever you came from,” he said hopefully.

“The most important thing about aloha is it is free, from up there,” Keale explained pointing to the sky.

“You can live with aloha. It will change your life.”



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