Entertainer spread aloha through music, education

LIHU’E -Bob Meyers spread his talent and aloha freely and lived and died doing the things he loved.

Last Thursday, he flew from Kaua’i to Washington, D.C. to join other supporters of Hawaiian issues in the second Aloha March.

That evening, he collapsed and died of undetermined causes at the age of 48.

Because of his deep interest and love of the Hawaiian culture and the issues of sovereignty, friend Steve Kline said, Meyers felt compelled to go to the march this year. He was prepared to wear a kihei (a toga-like garment) and had brought leis as gifts of aloha. This was typical of Meyers, who delighted in taking gifts of goodwill that reflected the culture that he loved and was so proud of, friends said.

Meyers shared the Hawaiian language and culture through music and teaching, said Kline.

Born and raised on O’ahu, Meyers moved to Kaua’i in 1987. Those who knew him best said he had a natural, God-given singing talent and had loved music since he was young.

Friends acknowledged that the path he chose may not always have been a happy or easy one, but he was never selfish about sharing his gift. People who heard him sing were always amazed and awed by his rich, velvet voice.

Close friend and fellow singer, Jona Clark, said Meyers had a natural talent.

“His range was limitless. You wouldn’t even know when he went from the low notes right up into the high falsetto,” she said.

In the late 1980s, Meyers played a truly lovable Pirate King in the Kaua’i Community Players’ production of “Pirates of Penzance.” Later, he expanded his talent as a singer, arranger and dancer with the “Nite on Broadway Review,” a musical presentation featuring selections from several popular Broadway shows and staged at several Kaua’i hotels.

Meyers had his share of personal and professional disappointments, friends said, but overcame them to capture several talent competitions and musical awards.

Two years ago, he won FOX-TV2’s Hawai’i Stars statewide talent search.

During an audience-pleasing performance, Meyers sang his own arrangement of “Bring Him Home” from the musical “Les Miserables” in both Hawaiian and English.

He went on to win the first annual Falsetto Contest at the Hyatt Regency Kaua’i and also took first place with Clark in the Kiwanis Shower of Stars.

Friends said his musical accomplishments were varied, but perhaps the best testament to his talent was the audiences who heard him sing at countless weddings, concerts, pageants, church services and luaus and were moved by his powerful voice and feeling for the music.

Sometimes, his gigs were paid ones. But just as often, he performed for free, friends recalled.

A 1969 graduate of Kamehameha Schools, Meyers stayed involved in the school’s activities and was interested in Native Hawaiian issues.

This year, he decided to venture into the local political arena. He filed to run for a seat on the Kaua’i County Council because he was interested in nurturing Kaua’i as a place for families.

“There are so many latchkey kids, parents working two or three jobs and no family life,” he said in an interview with The Garden Island a few days before he died. “I would like to see people work just one job so that the quality of life can be different.

“I don’t want to see gated communities. I want to see people come here, people with family values.” As a volunteer guardian ad litem, Meyers represented the needs of disadvantaged children. He was also a substitute teacher.

His good friend, Chris Kealoha, said, “He could understand children. He was patient. He would encourage them to learn. And although he sometimes lost his temper with adults, he never lost his temper with children. He seemed to understand their innocent curiosity.” Kealoha said Meyers could be childlike himself, taking simple pleasure in looking at turtles or flowers.

She recalls how once he observed a bird falling out of a tree and insisted on stopping to help.

His home in Kalaheo included pigeons, parakeets, a dog and fish, plus a carport full of plants.

A memorial service on Kaua’i is being planned for mid-September.

A fellow performer said, “What do I remember about Bob? I remember his smile. It could stop traffic. I remember him making everyone roar with laughter as he swung comically on a rope on the stage of ‘Pirates.’ I remember he always had a warm bear-hug and soft, kind words whenever we met.” Friends say Kaua’i will be a lonelier place without Meyers, but the choir in heaven just added a beautiful baritone.

Staff writer Lynne Cosner can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 242).

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