NAWILIWILI — He has touched many lives, from locals to visitors. He has shared his love and knowledge of Hawaiian history and culture.
Numerous visitors have returned to Kaua‘i because of the friendship they have built with this “living, breathing example of aloha spirit,” as a recent county resolution refers to Louis Almodova Jr.
Recognizing his contributions to the community, the Kaua‘i County Council on Wednesday honored “Uncle Louie” by naming the pavilion at Salt Pond Beach Park after him.
“Uncle Louie has lived a life of aloha,” Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said.
Close friend Tamara Stryker took Almodova to Nawiliwili Wednesday morning without disclosing the reason. The long-time ‘Ele‘ele resident — named “Mayor of Salt Pond” by former Mayor Tony Kunimura — apparently had no idea he was going to be recognized.
“I bet you don’t even know why you are here,” Councilman Mel Rapozo told Almodova.
Councilman Dickie Chang said the same thing to a speechless Almodova. Chang said he remembers many years ago driving to the Westside just to meet the “Mayor of Salt Pond.”
When Almodova finally spoke, he timidly said he was honored by the county passing a resolution establishing “The Uncle Louie Almodova Jr. Pavilion.” He said he thought Stryker was taking him to see a ship at the harbor.
“I didn’t know what this was about,” he said. “Nobody tell me nothing. I’m really surprised.”
Parks and Recreation Director Lenny Rapozo held Almodova’s hand and said the first time he met him was in 1988, when Rapozo was coming back to Kaua‘i after college. That was when they became friends.
In front of a crowd full of friends, Rapozo asked if Almodova had anything to add. A shy “no” was the answer.
The council sent a copy of Resolution 2011-62 to Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., with a request for a plaque and signs to be placed at Salt Pond Beach Park, proclaiming Almodova’s name at the pavilion.
• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@ thegardenisland.com.