Alan Akana remembered for his bubbly personality
Alan Curtis Hanalei Akana was also known as “Big Al” here on the West Side, more for the massive personality that poured out from his broad chest than the physical presence that enabled him to play Division I football at Michigan State during the heyday of that school in the Big Ten Conference.
He married his college sweetheart and moved to Maui to join other family members in the Lahaina community, quickly establishing a pathway that combined that personality with Maui’s island culture – particularly with the ocean.
Akana signed on as a lifeguard with the county and helped promote the Junior Lifeguard program here on the West Side. He also enjoyed swimming, diving, stand up paddling and, in recent years, canoe paddling.
He had joined Kahana Canoe Club to take part in the cultural competition that has grown steadily over the years to manifest the connection between Hawaii’s people – past and present – and the ocean.
Then, in an early season regatta at Canoe Beach this year, Akana – racing with his crew – suffered a heart attack and passed away. He thus left this world in his comfort zone that was on the water and competing as a part of a team.
Alan Akana would have turned 51 on Sept. 8 and was in the prime of his life with his wife, Debbie, and their children Major, Marshall and Laci Ann. As reflected in the overflowing service following his passing, he was a dear family member and friend to many here on Maui.
Cousin Waynette Kawahara grew up with Alan and knew him as a man with a bubbly personality that endeared him to all who came in contact with him.
“He was the kind of guy that would pick up a homeless guy off the street, bring him home, clean him up, feed him, give him some money, let him spend the night in his home, then send him on his way the next day,” said Kawahara. “He would give anyone in need the shirt off of his back.
“He just loved to talk – with anyone,” she continued. “He loved to be involved with the water, even with his most recent job at Honua Kai with the water features at that resort. And over the last five years or so, Alan spent a lot of time working on a lo’i farm in Honokowai Valley.”
The Lahaina community sends its sincere condolences to his family: wife Debbie; sons Major and Marshall; daughter Laci Ann; brothers Charles (Delia) Akana and Chester (Nancy) Akana; sisters Karen (Miles) Nagasako, Carolyn (Carlton) Flores, Margaret “Mugsy” Akana and Denise Akana; and to all of his extended family and friends.