Conservationist worked to prevent building on Diamond Head
By John Berger / email@example.com
Cecilia Blackfield, an ardent conservationist who did much to preserve the unspoiled natural beauty of Hawaii, died Friday at her home in Kahala. She was 100.
Hawaii philanthropist Carolyn Berry Wilson remembered Blackfield as an avid card player and a personal role model.
“She loved to play cards, and we played at least once a week,” Berry Wilson said via email. “She was so full of life I would tell her that when I grew up, I wanted to be just like her.”
Dr. James Pierce, a friend for more than 40 years, described Blackfield as “an incredible role model and always good for ‘a love and a hug.’ Her door was always open — 24/7.”
Blackfield was a community leader who worked with the Legislature and the Honolulu City Council in deflecting and preventing ill-advised development schemes. She spearheaded the campaign to save the slopes of Diamond Head from the type of high-rise development that occurred on Punchbowl, and helped thwart plans to fill Magic Island with hotels and luxury condos.
Blackfield and her husband, William “Bill” Blackfield, called U.S. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, a family friend, when Diamond Head was threatened; Udall designated Diamond Head a national monument and ensured that high-rise development would not be allowed there.
Blackfield served on the city Board of Parks and Recreation for 10 years, was a founding member of Scenic Hawaii, a past president of the Outdoor Circle, and a founding member of the Kapiolani Park Preservation Society. Blackfield supervised the construction of the McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Park and served on its board.
She also served on the board of Temple Emanuel.
Blackfield had a strong commitment to Hawaiian and hapa haole music. Danny Kaleikini recalled Blackfield coming to see him many times in the 27 years he was the headline entertainer at the old Kahala Hilton.
“She was one of my biggest supporters at the Kahala Hilton,” Kaleikini said. “She was a very nice lady, a real kamaaina and part of the ohana.”
Blackfield’s love of Hawaiian and hapa haole music was evident when she celebrated her 100th birthday in January with a party for 99 friends at the Outrigger Canoe Club. The program included performances by Kaleikini, Cathy Foy Mahi, Puamana, famed hula soloist Kanoe Miller, the Hiram Olsen Trio, Kale Chang and a trio of hula dancers.
Blackfield was born Cecilia Malik in Richmond, Calif. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1936 and came to Hawaii for the first time that same year aboard the SS Lurline. She married William Blackfield, a prominent homebuilder, in 1941. The couple had three children, Leland, Pamela and Karen.
Blackfield was preceded in death by her husband and son. She established the Leland Blackfield Youth Activity Center at Palama Settlement in Honolulu, and the William Blackfield Scholarship Fund at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, in their memory.
Blackfield is survived by daughters Karen and Pamela Blackfield.
A celebration of life will be held at a future date.
Contributions may be made to the Leland Blackfield Youth Activity Center at Palama Settlement.