Dr. Patrick Koon Hung Charles Aiu died Monday, October 28, 2002 at Straub hospital at the age of 63. In those years he worked as a doctor to the people of Kaua’i and Ni’ihau, sailed the Pacific on the Hokule’a, attained the rank of Colonel and the office of State Surgeon in the Hawai’i National Guard and stayed a Kaua’i boy, who loved to fish, hunt, hike, surf and play music with his friends.
Dr. Aiu was born on September 14, 1939, the youngest of eight children of Eugene Kahoali’i Aiu and Alice Apana Aiu. He grew up in the Wailua Houselots with a strong sense of ‘ohana. The Aiu house was home not only to immediate family but also cousins who would stay the summers and friends who dropped by nightly.
He graduated from Kapa’a High School in 1957 and went on to College at Loyola. He never finished college because in his junior year he passed the MCAT’s and was accepted to Oregon Medical School. He then transferred and finished his final 3 years of medical school at UCLA and graduated in 1964. After an internship at Queens he was drafted and served three years as a resident at Munchweiler Field Hospital in Germany. He completed his residency at a combined UH-Kapiolani program and then returned home to Kaua’i to be the islands first fOb-Gyn specialist.
He practiced under the Kaua’i Medical Group for over thirty years delivering hundreds of the islands children and chairing the Ob-Gyn board. He also visited Ni’ihau regularly to bring health care to the rural island community, was an active member of the St. Catherine’s PTA, a member on the Board of Medical Examiners and continued military service in the Hawai’i National Guard until his retirement.
In march of 1980 Dr. Aiu sailed as ship’s doctor with Master Navigators Nainoa Thompson and Mau Piailug on the Hokule’a to Tahiti. Sailing and the Hokule’a would become one of his lifelong loves and proudest accomplishments. He sailed again in 1985 on various legs of the two-year Voyage of Rediscovery, which took Hokule’a and her crew to Aotearoa (New Zealand), the southernmost point of the Polynesian triangle.
As interest in traditional Hawaiian voyaging increased Dr. Aiu and fellow Hokule’a crew members John Kruse and Dennis Chun realized the need for Kaua’i to have her own voyaging canoe. Together they founded Na Kalai Wa’a o Kaua’i and in 1999 began building the canoe he would eventually name Na Mahoe. At the same time to fund the future upkeep and docking of the canoe he instituted the Na Pali Challenge outrigger canoe race, which brought Hawaiian canoes back to the Na Pali Coast.
Besides his professional and civic accomplishments Dr. Aiu was a renaissance man. He was a gifted athlete and experienced waterman; an accomplished musician who could play a mellow slack key and a rousing version of his uncle Sol Bright’s classic “Hawaiian Cowboy;” a wood carver and a great cook.
Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson and those who have sailed with him, will take Dr. Aiu on his last sail as they bring him back home to Kaua’i from O’ahu on the Hawai’i Loa.
Aiu is survived by his wife, Mavis Dew Aiu of Kaua’i; his children Pua’alaokalani of O’ahu, Pi’imauna of Colorado, Mohala of O’ahu, Imaikalani of Wailua, Makani of Calif. and Victoria of Kaua’i; brothers Harold Aiu of Kaua’i, Ernest Aiu of Calif., and Raymond Aiu, Sr. of Kaua’i; sisters Cecila Wood and Alma Wong of O’ahu; and three grandchildren.
A service is scheduled at St. Catherine’s Catholic Church in Kapa’a on Nov. 8 with visitation from 9 to 10:45 a.m. and Mass from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There will be an honor guard ceremony at St. Catherine’s followed by a scattering of ashes at sea from the Hawai’i Loa. Family and friends are invited to gather at the Kaua’i Veterans Center after the scattering of ashes.
The Aiu family requests that leis be scattered with the ashes, instead of gifts of wreaths or floral arrangements.