Aki was doer, devoted family man

Raymond X. “Buddy” Aki is being remembered today as someone in county government who got things done, and was at the same time a loving family man.

Aki, who was elected to the County of Kaua’i Board of Supervisors (now the County Council) in 1959 and served as board chairman and executive officer (now mayor) from 1961 to 1964, died Monday at the age of 86.

He had been living with one of his daughters in Wailua Houselots.

Former state Sen. George Toyofuku, of Lihu’e, served six years on the Board of Supervisors with Aki, and said, “He was a good man. He was a good chairman.

“He considered all of the thinking, the thoughts of all the other councilmen. He was a fair guy,” said Toyofuku.

John B. “J.B.” Fernandes Jr., also of Wailua Houselots, said “He was a very good chairman. He was a very aggressive chairman.

“He wanted things done in the best interest of the public,” said Fernandes, who was a purchasing agent under Aki, and, later, purchasing assistant and contracts administrator.

“I’m proud to have served under him. He was a good politician, and he got things accomplished,” said Fernandes.

“I remember that we made a 10-year, replacement-of-equipment program that we presented to the Legislature. It was very concise. I didn’t think it would get to first base” at the Legislature, but lawmakers approved the plan, Fernandes said.

Aki also came up with a plan to consolidate all state and county oil and fuel purchases, as a way to use economies of scale and save taxpayers money, Fernandes added.

With all his involvement in politics, his family was the center of Aki’s universe, Fernandes recalled. “The apple of his eye was the children, and his wife,” Fernandes said.

Former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, also a Wailua Houselots resident, recalled Aki coming in to talk taxes with the late Mayor Tony Kunimura, who also served with Aki on the Board of Supervisors.

“I knew he was a very bright man,” especially knowledgeable about taxes, which was the subject of the discussions between Aki and Kunimura, Kusaka said.

“I’m just really sad,” Kusaka said. “Again, we lose another community icon.”

After serving on the county Board of Supervisors, he moved to O’ahu and started his own tour company, and was a land developer. When he returned to Kaua’i, he was an active participant at County Council meetings and public hearings, especially where real-property taxes were concerned. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor and a position on the County Council after returning to the island.

Born in Wailua on Oct. 24, 1919, to Henry K. Aki and Lucy M. Kupihea, Aki died at Wilcox Memorial Hospital Monday.

In his early years, he was a caddy at Wailua Golf Course while still in school, and worked in the cane fields, pineapple cannery, as a longshoreman, in construction, and as a merchant marine.

In World War II, he volunteered to run arms through enemy blockades from 1940 until the war’s end. He retired as a lieutenant commander.

He traveled extensively, and in Christchurch, New Zealand he met and married the former Veronica Commons.

They later settled on Kaua’i, raising their 15 children. He was a general insurance agent, real-property appraiser and building-trades union organizer before winning election to the Board of Supervisors in 1959.

He is survived by 13 children: Maria (Fred) Orr, Monica (Butch) Nagahisa, Raymond P. Aki, Anne (Ashbell) Park, Blaise (Carol) Aki, Veronica (Greg) Lindo, Matthew Aki, Maureen (Richard) Carvalho, Michael (Pearl) Aki, Tim (Kurumi) Aki, Sean Aki, Kevin Aki, Elizabeth (Michael) Manning; 60 grandchildren and 55 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by wife Veronica and two of his children, Jerome Aki and Claire Aki.

Services are tomorrow at 9 a.m., with Mass with Father Al at 10 a.m., at St. Catherine Church in Kapa’a, with cremation to follow. Services in Honolulu are Saturday from 9 a.m., with Mass at 10 a.m. with Father Khan, at St. Steven’s Church, 2747 Pali Hwy.

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