Kilauea Sugar Company manager Ernest A. Smith

Ernest A. Smith (1919-2007), manager of C. Brewer’s Kilauea Sugar Co., Kauai from 1960 to 1969, was born at Papaikou, Hawaii to parents Mr. Ernest Smith, an accountant for Onomea Sugar Co., and Mrs. Anne Ward Smith.

Following his graduation from Hilo High School in 1936, he worked as a chemical lab analyst, a supercargo on inter-island cargo vessels, and a harvesting foreman for Onomea Sugar Co., supervising 40 cane cutters, who in those days harvested cane by hand before loading it onto locomotive cane cars in the field.

During World War II, he served as an infantry officer in General Patton’s Third Army in Europe fighting Germans.

Among his military decorations are the Purple Heart, Silver Star, Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Bronze Star.

His son, Keith Smith, said that “One of the highlights of his military service was being ordered to a French village square to listen to General Patton deliver a “pep talk” to the troops.

He said the talk was too vulgar to repeat word for word and described Patton as a real nut, but the perfect commander for a bunch of 19- and 20-year-old’s who fed off his persona of invincibility.”

After the war, Smith held a number of increasingly responsible jobs in the sugar industry, culminating in his promotion to manager at Kilauea Sugar Co. in 1960.

As manager, he set production records and developed affordable housing for Kilauea Sugar employees, later saying that seeing employees moving out of dusty old camp houses into their own homes was one of the greatest joys of his career.

Keith Smith also stated that when he and is twin brother, Gary, were hired on for summer work at Kilauea Sugar Co., his father insisted that they not be assigned easy office jobs, but were instead given the hardest jobs on the plantation – sabedong man (knapsack sprayer), and cut seed man.

In 1978, Ernest Smith retired as a vice president with C. Brewer & Company.

He and his wife, Marion Campbell Smith, had five children: Robert, Judith, Keith, Gary, Sandra and Jeffrey.


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