Medic was popular ‘people person’ who improved outreach
Leila Fujimori / Lfujimori@staradvertiser.com
Young Bobby Pedro was a thin, fit medic with long, curly hair, who looked like Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz and was “very popular with the nurses,” said longtime friend and acting Emergency Medical Services Assistant Chief Eddie Fujioka.
“My first impression of Bobby was that he was a real charismatic person,” said Fujioka, who recalls going on an ambulance ride-along with Pedro in 1977, when Fujioka was a college student and summer hire. “He was very likable, super nice guy, got along with everybody. He would help anybody, especially the young interns. If they were having struggles during internship, he would take the time to demonstrate proper techniques. … He was very popular with the emergency room doctors and nurses aswell.”
The 65-year-old retired Emergency Medical Services district chief, who served 36 years with the city’s EMS and spearheaded its public outreach program, died Tuesday.
“The outpouring of love we’ve had from his friends and from the community has been so tremendous and much appreciated,” said Pedro’s daughter, Reyneen Pedro. “He was a wonderful father and grandfather, and he meant everything to us.”
Dennis Yurong, Pedro’s first boss at EMS said, “He developed into a very caring individual in EMS, and I think he left that legacy and was able to pass that on to whomeverhe mentored. … That’s why everyone speaks so highly of him.”
As a paramedic, Pedro demonstrated a great deal of care and compassion for his patients, his colleagues say.
“When someone was in pain or discomfort, he really did the best he could to make the person comfortable,” Fujioka said. “Regardless of how minor the patient’s condition was, he treated everyone the same.”
Fujioka picked up one of Pedro’s trademark practices.
“Before we left the hospital, we would always go in and check in on the patient to wish them luck and to take care,” he said, adding that this is something he doesn’t seeothers doing anymore.
Yurong, who became EMS operations chief, selected Pedro to be the primary public relations person to start a campaign to educate the public about EMS and “to take ourmission on the road” by visiting schools and hospitals in an ambulance.
“He did a very, very good job,” he said. “I believe what he did had an impact on recruitment, better relationship with the hospitals and staff.”
Retired EMS secretary Karen Lee called him “a people person of the department,” and she maintained a close friendship with him after he retired in 2010 due to his failinghealth.
After his leg was amputated a few months ago, Lee found him a secondhand scooter, which he used to get around as well as to catch the bus or The Handi-Van to attendconcerts, movies and cultural festivals .
“He would not waste time just sitting at home,” she said. “He was very independent. … He wasn’t the type to give up.”
An Aug. 17 Honolulu Star-Advertiser article on kidney disease featured Pedro, who had become a Type 2 diabetic and an amputee on dialysis, due, in part, to his admittedconsumption of Big Gulps and “all the wrong foods.”
“I neglected myself,” the father of four told the Star-Advertiser. “I took care of everybody else except myself.”
Ex-wife Gilda Morita attested to that, saying Pedro had been planning for his only son’s wedding in November.
“He was totally looking forward to that, and we were hoping he would be there for the wedding,” she said. “He was so much a part of everybody’s lives.”
His daughter, Genell Simoes, said, “This happened too soon and we wish we had more time with him. We love him and miss him and are very grateful for having him inour lives.”
The key to Pedro’s relationships, both working and personal, was to try to be nice to everyone.
He was a likable, fun guy, with “a really rascal laugh when he’d tell jokes or funny stories about other people,” Fujioka said. This earned him the nickname “the Portuguesedevil.”
Yurong said, “He had a big hand at fostering a sense of ohana and belonging…. He had a gift of bringing people together and to share good times.”
Richard Mendonca, 45, an EMS supervisor in Waipio, said Pedro was his district chief when he was a paramedic. The two met in 1992, and remained friends. For the pastthree years, Mendonca had taken him to Las Vegas.
“The thing about Bobby was, he always gave his all,” he said. “If you needed anything, he would give it to you … without any recognition.”
So Mendonca never thought twice about helping him out, especially after he got sick, “because if I needed anything, he would help me out.”
For this year’s Vegas trip, they flew first class, rented a special van to accommodate his scooter and drove to Boulder City, Nev., so Pedro could get his wish to ride a train.
“People couldn’t understand why people would bend over backwards for the district chief,” Mendonca said. “His philosophy is to take care of his people first,” even if theyare wrong, then later “pull you on the side and say, ‘Eh, you were wrong.’”
“Physically, he’s not here anymore, but as long as you keep him in your heart, he’s basically everywhere now.”
Pedro is also survived by his son, Riley; daughters Reyneen Pedro, Genell Simoes and Geryze Simoes; and four grandchildren.
His service will be Oct. 19 at Oahu Cemetery.