Kenneth C. Hopper, manager of The Garden Island newspaper

Born in California, and a printer by trade, Kenneth C. Hopper (1880-1961) first came to Hawaii in 1901 by ship from California on his honeymoon with his wife, Gertrude. There to greet them in Honolulu was his stepfather, at that time in charge of dredging Honolulu Harbor.

The couple subsequently settled in Honolulu, where Hopper found employment in the mechanical department of the Hawaiian Gazette newspaper.

Then, in 1907, his work at the Hawaiian Gazette and his previous experience as manager of the Los Alamos Central and as owner of the Guadalupe Moon newspaper, both in Santa Barbara County, Calif., attracted the notice of the directors of the Garden Island Publishing Co.

They offered him the post of manager of the company, which he accepted and thus launched what would become his 22-year career with The Garden Island newspaper — as business manager, secretary, managing editor, president and director.

His predecessor at the newspaper was its founder, in 1902, and its publisher and editor, Sometaro Sheba.

By often working 14 to 16 hours a day, Hopper grew the weekly newspaper to 10 pages with over 800 inches of advertising, news and sports of Kauai, a Hawaiian language section and a social section.

One of Hopper’s editors was Charlie Fern, whom Hopper hired in 1922. The former barnstorming aviator would remain at the newspaper for 44 years, retiring in 1966.

Kenneth Hopper was also an outstanding amateur athlete, setting records and winning championships in Honolulu and on Kauai in the running broad jump, running high jump and in tennis.

He and Mrs. Hopper made their home at Grove Farm, Kauai.

They had three children: Thelma, Kenneth and Glenn.

When Mr. and Mrs. Hopper decided to return to California in 1929, his resignation was accepted “with genuine regret” by the directors of Garden Island Publishing Co.


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