LIHUE — For nearly four decades, Morris “Bud” White called Kauai his home.
Even after the former Marine Corps sergeant major died in 2013 at the age of 84, his son-in-law Mike Grillos and White’s daughter, Karen Grillos, sought to keep that dream alive by erecting a memorial bench at Anini Beach, one of White’s favorite spots.
“Our effort was to put a bench on that beach so that future generations can enjoy the vistas, the ocean and just the serenity of that environment,” Mike Grillos said on Tuesday from his Denver home.
But on Tuesday, when several family friends on Kauai visited the memorial bench for a birthday gathering, they discovered it had been vandalized less than one month after being installed.
Karen and Mike Grillos were devastated and disappointed to learn the backrest of the bench had been completely torn off.
“Every day we face challenges in our life and it (the bench) reminds us that, despite everything that my dad saw in his lifetime, he was still an optimist,” Karen Grillos said. “He always believed in the good in people and that’s how I am, too — it’s challenging for me to keep believing that but I do.”
Karen Grillos said she is not sure how much it may cost to repair the damages or what her family’s options may be.
The donation of the memorial bench was estimated to be worth $2,365.
The discovery comes on the heels of a Friday plea from county officials, who are working to solve a spate of vandalism cases at several public parks.
Meanwhile, the Denver couple are asking for help in finding whoever destroyed the bench.
White, a former Kilauea resident, became known by some residents and visitors over the years as “The North Shore walker.” The Garden Island first wrote about White and the memorial bench on the one-year anniversary of his death in January, when county officials accepted his family’s offer to purchase the engraved granite bench and place it at the Kalihiwai beach for all to enjoy.
“He always had open arms and believed in people until they proved him otherwise, so I’m like my dad, and I have faith in people — some people are good and there’s a few bad people,” Karen Grillos said. “I’m not going to let this make me change my perspective, because they would really win, if I lost my faith in people.”