HONOLULU, HI – Dean Atherton Eyre Jr. passed away on February 9, 2011 at his home; he was 81 years old. Dean, also known as “Appy” or “Spike,” was born on October 11, 1929 in San Francisco, CA, the older of two children of Dean Atherton and Katherine Wigmore Eyre.
Appy was a descendant of two long-time Western families. One great grandfather, Faxon Dean Atherton, worked in the hide and tallow trade in the 1830s before residing in what became the town of Atherton, CA. Another great-grandfather, Lt. Col. Edward E. Eyre, led the First California Calvary during the Civil War and helped to finance mining of the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, NV.
Following early schooling in San Francisco, Appy attended Thacher School in Ojai, CA, graduating in 1947, before enrolling at Stanford University. There he majored in Anthropology, as well as playing polo and guitar, living in the Red Barn for two years; he graduated in 1951. With Appy’s long-time interest in the Pacific already evident, a fitting graduation present was to travel to the island of Hawai’i to work for Ronald and Dorothy von Holt on the Kahua Ranch; the von Holts were friends of Appy’s father, who was a cattle rancher outside of Hollister, CA.
Appy served in the U.S. Army, stationed in Panama, after which he returned to San Francisco, where he met Thyrza Louise “Bonnie” Purvis from Honolulu. They were married in Honolulu on December 5, 1956. Appy worked as a trust officer at Hawaiian Trust Co., Ltd. Cross- and inter-island trips and flights back to California were often made with his trusty guitar. Bonnie frequently danced hulas to Appy’s accompaniment.
Appy was fluent in Tahitian language and added local songs to his repertoire of Hawaiian, Western, and Tin Pan Alley music. Being able to play with Tahitian combos was a testament to his scholarship.
He was a former director of the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame and Museum and board member and former president of the Stanford Club of Hawai’i.
Appy is survived by his wife of 54 years, Bonnie; their two children, Dean Atherton Eyre III (Suzanne) and Thyrza Louise “Lisa” Eyre; and sister Martha Eyre McDaniel.
A private service will be held. In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made to the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame and Museum (www.hawaiimusicmuseum.org), Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation (www.dukefoundation. org) or The Hawai’i Stanford Chapter (www.stanfordhawaii.org).