DAVID M. PETERS
David Merritt Peters was born August 6, 1923, in Honolulu, the oldest child of Charles Merritt Peters and Mollie Kananipauole Akana Peters. David spent his early years on Maui, with his beloved sister Ione and brother Charles. His father, a military veteran and territorial senator, was the island’s first mortician. His mother, who later owned a beauty parlor, was herself a beauty-and the disciplinarian in the family. David was student at the Kamehameha School for Boys beginning in grade 7. He returned to Maui in 1938, and graduated from Maui High School in 1941. David’s leadership, commitment and service began early. In high school, he was president of his junior and senior classes and an award-winning orator. He was the first person from Maui to be appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In 1946, David graduated from West Point with a B.S. in Engineering and commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Over the next thirty years, he commanded at all tactical levels, including as an Airborne Infantry officer during the Korean War and in Vietnam as a member of the elite Special Forces and later a Battalion Commander. In Germany, he commanded a Brigade on the front lines of the Cold War. Other assignments included senior military assistant to the U.S. commander in Vietnam and the NATO commander in Europe. In his last Army assignment, David led the University of Hawai’i Army ROTC unit as Professor of Military Science. He retired as a Colonel in 1976. Among David’s military decorations are the Silver Star for gallantry in action, four Legions of Merit and three Bronze Stars (including one for valor). He graduated from the U.S. Army War College and earned an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin. While in the Army, David met and in 1953, married the former Joan Sabin. They had three children, Lauren, David, Jr., and Diane. Joan died in 1986, and David, Jr., in 1988. In 1989, David married Mary Melekahana Awai Kapaona, a Kamehameha graduate, community volunteer and successful businesswomen. David set a shining example as a loving husband, father and grandpa. After retirement from the Army, David served the people of Hawai’i for another three-plus decades. Working until 1990 as Executive Assistant to U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, David ran the Senator’s Honolulu office and helped countless constituents. In 1978, David became a Trustee of the Queen Lili’uokalani Trust, serving for 29 years, including ten as Chairman. During his tenure, the Trust expanded the number of orphaned and destitute children served, built new facilities, and solidified its strong financial base. A strong and active community leader, David helped to found Alu Like. He served on many boards, including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Education Foundation and Hawai’i Army Museum. He was a member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I and Hale o Na Ali’i, past president of Prince Kuhi’o Hawaiian Civic Club, and a Rotarian, Scottish Rite Mason, Shriner and Elk. David’s many community awards included the Royal Order of Ke Ali’i Pauahi, Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce ‘O’o Award for Outstanding Public Service, Hawai’i Army Museum ‘Ihe Award, and designation by the Prince Kuhi’o Hawaiian Civic Club as a “Cultural Living Treasure.” During three, long and successful careers and a lifetime of service, David encouraged, helped and inspired many people. He taught us how to live and love. David is survived by his wife Mary Melekahana; daughters Lauren Kahea Moriarty (Jim), Diane Peters-Nguyen (Nhan), and Nani Burgess (Ola); sons Keven (Babs), Wade (Annette) and Shane (Mindy) Kapaona; 18 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Visitation will be Friday, Dec 14, at 2 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Cathedral; funeral service at 4 p.m. Burial at a later date at National Cemetery of the Pacific. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the David M. Peters Scholarship Fund at Chaminade University, Queen Lili’uokalani Children’s Center, Ke Ali’i Pauahi Foundation or Prince Kuhi’o Hawaiian Civic Club. Online condolences: borthwickoahu.com.