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Great guy Bob Longhi celebrated

By Staff | Sep 6, 2012

Friend Marsha Rogers said Bob Longhi “taught us to celebrate the moment.” PHOTO COURTESY OF LONGHI’S RESTAURANT.

LAHAINA – Bob Longhi, who passed away at 79 on July 30, knew how to throw a great party. He had one the other week when more than 600 people showed up on a Saturday evening, ending at 1 a.m. at his iconic restaurant to celebrate his life. Many believed he was present in spirit, and if so, undoubtedly had a good time.

Longhi’s classic Italian dishes were served buffet style, wine flowed and good friends and family from as far back as the 1970s reminisced about a life well spent.

Describing Bob as “a great guy and fierce competitor who loved to take my money,” champion bridge player and Mayor Alan Arakawa neatly summed up the life of his good friend in a special proclamation.

“Whereas Bob Longhi,” he wrote, “was born March 19, 1933 in Torrington, Connecticut, and in 1975 while on vacation on Maui fell in love with the island and after two days decided he had to move and live on Maui.

“And whereas Bob Longhi has always had passion for food and wanted to share it with others, so in December 1976 he opened Longhi’s Cafe, where he only served food he loved to eat: fresh, plentiful and great tasting.

“And whereas Longhi’s became an acclaimed Italian restaurant known for its great food and charismatic owner, where locals as well as celebrities such as famous winemaker Robert Mondavi, (actor) James Coburn, and sportscaster Al Michaels gathered.

“And whereas Bob was an average bridge player and enjoyed playing bridge with Mayor Alan Arakawa.

“Whereas Bob had a passion for national sports and was part owner of National Basketball Association’s Golden State Warriors… now, therefore… I have the distinct honor of recognizing Bob Longhi for his contribution over the years to Maui County as a successful restaurateur.”

Marsha Rogers, a longtime friend, also exuberantly and eloquently provided a long string of accolades.

“His love knew no boundaries,” she said, describing Longhi as a great man who was a lot of fun to hang out with, a big presence, terrific listener and wonderful storyteller, and amazing spirit.

“He was incredibly bright. His door was always open. He treated everyone with respect. ‘No negativo’ was his favorite expression. He loved his family and was really proud of his children and grandchildren,” she said.

“What a great ride we had with Bob,” Rogers concluded before reading a line from a favorite poem: “I am in a place where angels fly and I will never be that high.”

Also part of that poem: “Please do not waste our time with grief. Imagine the fun of hanging out with the divine one.”

COUNTY COUNCIL DISASTER: All but one of our so-called County Council representatives of the people voted to allow building homes in Olowalu. The council should be asked to revisit this.

Say homeowners in Puamana were all for building a 1,000-foot tourist tower, and 62 people from the community were all for it because it would increase their land values. Would the council approve it? No.

What council members lost sight of is that community plans are supposed to serve the entire community, not just a select few. What the community as a whole wants is more important than what 62 Olowalu people with special interests think. Not building up Olowalu makes sense. But on Maui, we seem to do the opposite. If the council members are smart, they will revisit this issue.

Disaster two is declaring pristine Lipoa Point on Honolua Bay a non-preservation area. Maui Land & Pine wants to use it as collateral for a loan to cover indebtedness to pensioners. This is just a transparent land takeover. Once again, the council needs to listen to the thousands who are part of the Save Honolua Coalition that oppose the move.

On the one hand, the council listened to 62 locals who live in OIowalu to benefit a developer. Then, to also benefit a developer, it refused to listen to thousands who oppose change at Lipoa Point.

Time to fix this irony, especially since several who voted “yes” to both face opposition in the next election.