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Portables leaves a legacy of service

By Staff | May 7, 2021

Manny Portables passed away on April 4, 2021 at the age of 76, leaving behind a legacy of service. PHOTO BY COURTNEY ASATO.

He is a man that served his country and his community for his entire adult life. Manny Portables served in the United States Army National Guard, then as a firefighter for the County of Maui, and then as a vital part of the promotion of culture of the Hawaiian canoe here on the West Side.

Manny Portables passed away on April 4, 2021 at the age of 76, leaving behind a legacy of a quiet contributor in the Armed Forces, then as a first responder on Maui, then as a coach and supporter of Napili and Kahana Canoe Clubs, as well as the paddling team at Lahainaluna High School.

His affection for craftsmanship and caring for the keiki involved in outrigger canoe paddling stood out for the last 15 years. The Tihada family has long been the backbone of Napili Canoe Club, and Nori Tihada — a lifelong coach and leader of the organization — praised Portables as an important part of the leadership of the club and for his consideration of the children of the community.

“Manny was a very generous man who was willing to help anyone,” said Tihada last week. “He found a true love and interest in Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddling. He coached not only the kids but the adults as well. He maintained and cared for all of the canoes, paddles and facilities in the club. He really loved working with the keiki and felt that every kid was special. We will miss him very much.”

“He put in so much time with the kids, chaperoning them at state and high school regattas, driving them around in vans, picking up the boarders that were on the Lahainaluna crews,” Coach Nori continued. “He had a quiet love for children and for the culture of the canoe — rigging, patching, maintenance, towing canoes to races; he did it all. It was an unconditional love every step of the way. He never expected anything in return. But his main love was with the kids, and he just blew me away as a mentor for all of us.”

The Keahi ‘Ohana of Lahaina also has a deep history with outrigger canoe paddling here on the West Side, and Bear Keahi was another leader who worked closely with Portables.

“He (Portables) just kept giving and provided a great example for all of us to follow. He always wanted to teach the kids the right way — in the island way of learning to give without taking. He never stopped.”

“He was always trying to learn more, to help with the kids more, always giving and helping others. He especially loved the kids and coaching them as he accepted new challenges. His house was jammed with stuff — paddles, canoes, woodworking stuff — as the utility guy and maintenance man for all the kids. He provided a great example, a great guy.”

A beloved father, brother, uncle and friend, Manny Portables is predeceased by his father, Victor, and brother Jerry (Susan). He is survived by his son, Patrick; sisters Ann and Doreen; brothers Bernie, Nick and Butch (Cheryl); and numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, extended family and friends.

The Portables ‘Ohana wishes to express a heartfelt mahalo to the many friends and family who have cared for him during his time of need. A special thanks to Napili Canoe Club for their love and support.

A celebration of life was held on May 1 at Wahikuli State Park with a drive-by service adjacent to Canoe Beach, where Manny Portables spent so many of the endearing years of his life. (By Walter Chihara)