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Council honors Ed Lindsey for lifetime of service

By Staff | May 22, 2009

WAILUKU — It was standing room only at the County Council Chambers in Wailuku last week Friday, May 15, with witness after witness lining up to testify in support of a resolution in honor of Lahaina’s native and favorite son, Edwin “Ed” Lindsey Jr., “a beloved Maui treasure.”

And the list of cohorts, colleagues and supporters offering testimony read like a who’s who of Maui conservationists, political activists, cultural preservationists and community leaders.

Among the many standing up to speak were Lori Sablas, Kaanapali Beach Hotel; Hannah Bernard, Hawaii Wildlife Fund; Mark Sheehan and Irene Bowie, Maui Tomorrow; Aunty Olive, Na Kupuna O Maui; Claire Paishon, Lahaina Hawaiian Civic Club; Leiohu Ryder, singer/songwriter and educator; and Mahina Martin, Maui County public information officer.

Council Chair Danny Mateo aptly described the experience: “Mr. Lindsey,” he said, “this has truly been a chicken skin moment.”

Born in 1939 to West Side community leaders Rose Keliihonipua Wright “Aunty Pua” Lindsey and Edwin R. Naleilehua “Uncle Ned” Lindsey, Ed is the second of five children following in his parents’ footsteps.

He graduated from Kamehameha Schools on Oahu as a boarding student, served in the U.S. Air Force and graduated with teaching credentials from Western State College of Colorado in 1967.

Lindsey married Maui girl Puanani Doong in 1964. They have three children and two grandchildren.

His years as an educator spanned 25 years with most of it spent at Iao Intermediate School, where he specialized in Hawaiian and social studies.

Taking out all the “whereases,” the resolution was specific about his lifelong path of community volunteerism: “Ed has been a pioneering force in the founding of numerous organizations and movements to preserve Maui’s ‘aina, cultural landscapes, marine resources and overall sense of place.”

In 2006, the Sierra Club presented Lindsey with its Malama Ka ‘Aina award, and recently, he received the Malama i Ke Kai Kupuna award at the “More Fish in the Sea: E Ola Ke Kai, E Ola Kakou” ocean awareness fair at Maui Community College.

Lindsey’s reach is extensive, from the mountain to the ocean. He has served as a founding member of Hui o Wa‘a Kaulua, president of the ‘Ohana Coalition, president of Maui Cultural Lands, organizer of Kilakila O Haleakala, cofounder of Maui Nui Marine Resources Council, member of Na Kupuna O Maui and participant in the Kaanapali 2020 planning process.

Lindsey also spearheaded ongoing native habitat restoration projects, such as Malama Honokowai Valley, Malama Ukumehame and Malama Kaheawa-Hanaula.

Robert Whitner, owner of Snorkel Bob’s, added to the long list of Ed’s achievements.

“Ed Lindsey is a rare and trusted ally in the aquarium campaign,” he said.

Lindsey was the “primary, pivotal person” for Maui achieving the status as being the only island in Hawaii with no gill nets, Whitner noted.

But the overwhelming sentiment voiced last week Friday lauded Lindsey’s resolute character and strong leadership skills.

Richard Lucas shared his feelings at the podium: “Uncle Ed has led a life of quiet inspiration. When he could have told us what to do, he chose instead to show us.  When he could have asked for our help, he chose instead to inspire us. When he could have sought recognition, he chose instead to earn it. Uncle Ed is clearly deserving of any honor we could bestow on him.”

“He has been a model of excellence and everything that has made me proud to have the opportunity to live in Hawaii,” said Mark Sheehan, Maui Tomorrow president.

Lori Sablas was spirited in her celebration of her lifelong friend.

“You taught us we can make a difference. You taught us that we don’t have to have all kind of paper or whatever. You taught us that you come from your heart if you do what is right for the right reasons… keep true to yourself and all the values,” she testified.

Throughout the public meeting, Lindsey was attributed with embodying the innate Hawaiian values that he lives, like onipa‘a (steadfast), lokahi (harmony), kokua (help), laulima (cooperation), kuleana (responsibility) and malama (care).

Daniel Kanahele is inspired by his association with Lindsey.

“I think the greatest gifts that anyone can have in this life is the ability to communicate our aloha first at all times, at all places and under all circumstances. I think Ed possesses that ability — to express his aloha for the people and for the land. I hope that many of us here today can follow your example and ku kanaka like you,” he said.          

“Ed has planted thousands of seeds that will grow and flourish and perpetuate our unique Hawaiian culture,” another testifier commented.

With his family gathered around him, Lindsey was humbled by the recognition.

“It is with permission from the kupuna who have been here before me, before all of us, that I accept this honor. I accept this honor, and it is with permission from all our Kanaka Maoli families who have people of high value, of high intellect, of high spiritual value, that I accept this honor. It is with permission from Ke Akua and all the spiritual people and the healers who have come before us,” he said.

Councilman Sol Kaho‘ohalahala solemnized the ceremony for all in attendance: “Their voices have spoken, and now it is a part of who we are. Thank you, Ed, for allowing us to be privileged to honor you this morning.”