LHS community to pay tribute to Sue D. Cooley
LAHAINA – Like so many visitors that come to Maui, Sue D. Cooley became deeply enthralled with the vibrant physical beauty of the island. Moreover, she connected spiritually with people of the Lahaina community in an intimate and unique way.
Cooley developed a friendship with Betty and Roy Sakamoto that led to an enlightening experience at a Lahainaluna High School football game. The Lunas lost a heartbreaker that night but gained a lifelong admirer in the process.
As the Sakamotos and Cooley left the stadium after the game, the harmonic sound of the 50 strong Lahainaluna varsity emanated from the dark and dank locker room as the tradition of the school’s alma mater – the only all-Hawaiian version in the state – was soulfully sung by the team.
It was a moment that struck Cooley to her core and endeared her to the torch of tradition that characterizes the Lahainaluna ohana. She decided then and there that she wanted the Lunas to be “her Boys,” and that she hoped to help the football program and the school to new heights.
It just so happened that the Lahainaluna High School Foundation had launched a project that would bring a state-of-the-art athletic facility to the oldest school west of the Rockies. A daunting project was launched to make such a stadium a reality for the Luna faithful.
Cooley became the primary benefactor for the movement that brought a Matrix Turf field, Musco Lighting, Tartan Track, seating for 3,000, air-conditioned press box, entry pavilion and concession area to the campus. It was a dream fulfilled for Luna fans from the first 175 years and into the new millennium.
The facility was named Sue D. Cooley Stadium, and upon seeing her name fronting the entryway to the field, she said, “This is one of the very best days of my life.”
Then the Lunas went out and won a state championship to climax the 2016 season.
Cooley was overjoyed and was later presented a ring and a commemorative number 1 jersey at her home in Washington State.
Then, on Feb. 18 of this year, she quietly passed away to join her husband in God’s Kingdom.
The Friends of Lahainaluna Football will present a Sue D. Cooley/”Cooleybration” on Saturday, June 24, from 8 to 10 a.m. at the stadium on campus.
Led by Master of Ceremonies Ke’van Dudoit, the program will feature a gathering period, blessing from Earl “Chief” Kukahiko, personal stories of their relationship with Cooley from Betty and Roy Sakamoto (including anecdotes of her love for “her Boys”), singing of the alma mater and “Hawaii Aloha” with Mele Pono, a ceremony at midfield with all participating, and then closing remarks and a final aloha.