It was Thomas Wolfe who wrote the novel, “You Can’t Go Home Again.”
My wife and I are going anyway.
After nearly seven years on Kauai, we’re returning to our home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. A job opportunity came up that will bring us back to be near family and many old friends. Yes, snow and ice and cold await, as north Idaho is still in the midst of winter, but so do many challenges and opportunities.
It has been wonderful to live here and be the editor of The Garden Island. That we lived on Kauai this long is amazing. I have been fortunate to speak at career days, teach Junior Achievement in schools, judge a scholarship pageant, run with dogs at the Kauai Humane Society, clean up after the Taste of Hawaii, serve on the Kauai Red Cross advisory board and be an extra in the movie “Jungle Cruise” that was partly filmed here.
I ran many races, swam the Hanalei Bay Swim Challenge and biked up Waimea Canyon and ran the Kalalau Trail, out and back, in one day.
But while all that was rewarding and fun, even unforgettable, more than anything, I want to say mahalo to so many people who were kind and encouraging. It is the people, more than the sites we visited and the things we did, that I will remember and hold in my heart.
If I learned one thing here, it’s that Kauai has an abundance of good people. I can’t name everyone, but there are some I would like to mention. Let me start with The Garden Island editorial staff.
Dennis Fujimoto, as everyone knows, is a legend. There has never been and there never will be anyone like him. I am honored to have worked with him and known him. Never has one person been so responsible for the success of a newspaper. His commitment and dedication to this island is extraordinary.
Jessica Else is the new editor-in-chief of TGI. She will shine in this role. I’m proud she was chosen. In the five and a half years I have known her, she has proven to be a determined, intelligent, resourceful reporter. She understands what it takes for a daily paper to succeed, and under her leadership TGI will rise to a new level.
Richard Stein is our IT whiz and office manager and part-time page designer who oversees special sections. With little fanfare, he goes about handling any number of different tasks and is called to solve all computer problems. It’s almost crazy all the things he takes care of in our building. He is one of the smartest, talented and most humble people I have known.
Paul Curtis, our chief page designer, is also a skilled writer and a fine editor, and TGI is fortunate to have him as one of the last lines of defense. His knowledge of this island has saved me from making untold errors. His input and insight has proven invaluable.
Our newest reporters, Caleb Loehrer, Jason Blasco and Stephanie Shinno, all have talents and skills that are already impressive and will only continue to improve as they work with their new editor.
Outside of work, I’d like to mention just a few others who made my life on Kauai such a blessing:
• Joe Frisinger in Princeville. He was the first to reach out to me when I moved in here 2013 and invited me to his home to meet his neighbors and continued to invited me and my wife out. He is, perhaps, the kindest man I have ever met. His love for his wife Jane might just be the strongest love I have known. This man’s heart is full of love.
• Larry Rivera. His music is beautiful, as is his spirit. Larry’s smile always brightened my day. We loved watching him perform. He thanked me profusely whenever we put him in the newspaper. He once walked me through Coco Palms and recounted the glory days of his youth. It was one of those chicken-skin moments. This man’s energy and love of life is a force of its own. Such a good man.
• Last, but certainly not least, Bill and Judie Fernandez. I remember that shortly after moving here in April 2013, someone suggested I needed to meet Bill Fernandez, and provided his phone number. We set up an appointment at their home and, as I recall, I showed up hot and sweaty for the interview, having just finished a run, which they found quite amusing. We sat on their front porch and talked on a sunny afternoon. That would be the first of many such times, as my wife and I became the best of friends with them. Over the years, they opened their home to us, sharing their time, resources, wisdom and love. Both had successful careers, but you wouldn’t know it because they rarely spoke of their accomplishments. We had the best of conversations over so many dinners — so much laughter and so many smiles. Their generosity and aloha toward us went beyond any we have ever known. They changed our lives for the better. We will miss them most of all.
I could go on, but I won’t. What I will say is simply this: Mahalo nui loa.
Today is Bill Buley’s final day as editor-in-chief of The Garden Island.