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Rose Marie Duey models 21st century activism

By Staff | Aug 23, 2012

Community activists Rose Marie and John Duey have been married for 52 years. “People who know us know that if you got one, you got the other. If you have Rose, you got John. If you got John, you got Rose. It's been like that in almost everything, " Rose Marie commented.

Rose Marie H. Duey is a driving force in the Hawaiian community. Fueled by a bundle of virtues, the self-proclaimed, proud activist has ink on her fingers, dirt under her nails and mud between her toes.

The eldest child of James Fay Ka’aiohelo and Rose Marie Puana Kaea Lindsey of Lahaina, Rose Marie was raised with seven brothers in a plantation house at Pu’unoa Point, also known as Baby Beach.

“My father actually had a boxing ring in his yard. Every time we would argue or fight about something, he’d put the gloves on us and throw us in the boxing ring. We would fight until we couldn’t lift our arms.

“My father said that was our heritage. We were warriors, and we will be warriors ’til the end,” she told the Lahaina News in an interview.

She attended Sacred Hearts School and graduated from Lahainaluna, Class of 1958.

On turning 18, she joined the army and served as Specialist 4th Class.

“When you look back at that time, my father worked for the plantation. He had seven boys and one girl in his household and could not afford to send me to college, and he told me that right out.

“It was either working in the cannery or working in the pineapple or sugar cane fields,” she recalled.

During her service, she received clerical and business training at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and met her husband of 52 years, John Duey of Indiana.

“How did he and I meet at the Aberdeen Proving Ground? I worked in a personnel office, and I screened soldiers. As they came in from foreign posts, we assigned them He likes to say that out of the thousands and thousands of guys that walked through my office that I kept him,” she recalled.

“When we returned here to Hawaii two years later after we were married, I joined the Hawaii Air National Guard,” she said.

Since then, her walk has been determined and focused in the footsteps of her ancestors in support of all things Hawaiian.

She is a leader, grant writer, community builder, program coordinator, executive director, manager, taro and noni farmer, business owner, landowner, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

For over 33 years, she has worked for Alu Like, Inc., a private, non-profit that assists Native Hawaiians in their efforts to achieve social and economic self-sufficiency.

“I actually started as an employment and training coordinator and then became manager,” she said.

“Alu Like’s motto is in community building: If it isn’t there, help build it. If we couldn’t find a Hawaiian program for a need, then we’d help build it. That’s what I’ve been doing all this time,” Rose Marie said matter-of-fact.

Her aspirations are noble: “Building organizations and programs, finding funding and writing grants necessary to assist our Hawaiian people to become responsible individuals for themselves, their families and our community. Programs that help them to reinvent themselves, provide them with health care, continue their educations, provide them with vocational training, help them to find employment, to own their own business and become homeowners.”

She has left her footprint on multiple island- and state-wide organizations.

For many local non-profits, she helped to coordinate their organization and file the application for 501c3 status, including Hui O Na Wai Eha, Maui Cultural Lands, Uhane O Wa’a Kaulua, Ka Ohana O Kahikinui and Hawaiian Community Assets.

She is a charter member of the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce; serves on the County of Maui Workforce Development Board; member of the County of Maui Affordable Housing Committee; and secretary/treasurer of the Maui Cultural Lands board of directors.

Other groups have benefitted from her presence. She was the building chair for Community Clinic of Maui and Punana Leo O Maui; member, County of Maui Grants Review Committee; coordinator, Mahiai Lau Lima Mea Kanu (Kalo farmers project East and West Maui); board member, Malama Na Makua a Keiki (rehab home for addicted mothers); program coordinator, E Hoolako I Na Keiki; and coordinator and kapa maker, Na Wahine O Honokohua.

She is a member of the Maui Native Plant Society and Maui Farmer’s Union.

The list of awards and certifications attributed to her volunteerism is a testament of her amazing deeds: Office of Hawaiian Affairs volunteer; Maui Economic Opportunity Volunteer; Girl Scouts of America Cookie Chair; Maui Outstanding Woman of the Year (two times); and Family of the Year.

West Side community leader Ekolu Lindsey is a cousin to Rose Marie.

“Aunty Rose Marie’s father, James Lindsey, is my grandfather’s (Edwin Lindsey, Sr.) younger brother.”

Ekolu has witnessed Rose Marie in action.

“She is a scrapper and champion of all things Hawaiian. I admire her ability to listen to what is not said and for her no nonsense actions and attitude. I would not want to be on the opposite side of any issue with her. Her brilliance and ability to out think an opponent is amazing to see in action. She leads by example and retells captivating experiences of battle fields crossed, so we may learn from the path she has travelled if you’re worthy of her lessons,” he said.

She is proud to call herself an activist.

Her battle cry was heard in the frontlines at Makena, for the return of Kahoolawe, against an airport at Launiupoko and on Oahu in protest of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation in 1893.

Her husband is her staunchest support.

“She never toots her on horn about her accomplishments. I have to do it,” Duey said, “if and when I find out what she has done.”

“As you know,” he continued, “she has worked for Alu Like for 33 plus years. She could have left there many years ago for higher paying jobs but chose to work for and in the Hawaiian community. She enjoys helping people who help themselves.”

“We like to say,” Rose Marie added with passion, “that we build the community, too, when we build better Hawaiians.”

(Next week Part 2: Putting poi back on the Hawaiian table).