HONOLULU — Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee and island entertainer Lillian “Linda” Keaweehu Dela Cruz died Thursday in her home in Hilo surrounded by her family, OHA announced. She was 77.
“We are deeply kaumaha (saddened) at this tremendous loss for the Hawaiian community,” OHA chairwoman Haunani Apoliona said. “Linda has been a strong and assertive advocate for our Hawaiian people and brought heart and soul to her trustee work. OHA benefited from her many years of community service.
“We will miss her, but know she is at peace. Our sincere aloha goes out to her ‘ohana and loved ones,” Apoliona said.
Dela Cruz was elected to the OHA board of trustees to represent the Big Island in 2000, and won re-election in 2004. Her term runs through next year.
A replacement is to be selected by the OHA board in 60 days. If one isn’t named, the governor will have 30 days to name one.
Dela Cruz, known as “Hawai‘i’s Canary” for her falsetto singing style, was honored in 2003 by the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts with a Na Hoku Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dela Cruz attended Kawananakoa Elementary School, McKinley High School, Windward Community College and the University of Hawai‘i-Hilo.