H. William Burgess

Posted On March 27th, 2016 -

$nameH. WILLIAM BURGESS Semper Fidelis H. William Burgess, age 87, passed away peacefully in his sleep on March 16, 2016 at his home in Honolulu. He was born March 13, 1929 in Greensboro, NC, to Raymond Michael and Virginia Coffey Burgess, weighing in at 10 lbs 11 oz. Grandmother said he could have gone straight to Kindergarten. When Bill was about 11 the family moved to Bayside, New York. He attended PS 130, graduated from Bayside High School and attended Queen's College and Fordham University. He graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law, Class of 1953. He was an enormously talented artist, and supplemented his NROTC scholarship selling caricatures. Bill was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the US Marine Corps in 1953. After flight school at Quantico and Pensacola he was stationed at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station, Hawaii with his beloved VMF 232 squadron. Bill served as a fighter pilot and legal officer and made Captain by the time he left the Marine Corps in 1958. In Honolulu he met Frances Searle, of Tulsa, Oklahoma. They married in 1957 and over the course of the next eight years they had four children, Liza, Billy, Becky and Tim. Bill made up "Rosie & Charlie" bedtime stories for his children, often made up of the day's events. The memories we have of those stories told in his voice are so dear to us. Bill began his law career with Carlsmith in Hilo and eventually opened up his own practice in Honolulu. From 1969 to 1972 he was the volunteer president of the Honolulu Legal Aid Society. Bill also served on the Defender Council which set up the very first Public Defender Office in Hawaii. In 1978 Bill was elected to Hawaii's Constitution Convention as one of 100 delegates charged with amending the state constitution. He worked for a balanced budget amendment and on the judicial selection committee. This Convention created the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and having just married a Native Hawaiian, Sandra Puanani Burgess, Bill stood up on the Convention floor to inquire, "what rights does my wife have that I don't have?" Even then Bill was concerned about the implications of government giving special privileges based on race. Bill funded the training for the first mediators in Hawaii and funded the opening of the first mediation center then known as the Neighborhood Justice Center of Honolulu in 1979. Bill laid the foundation for the huge success of the Mediation Center of the Pacific and paved the way for mediation and "Ho'o pono pono" in Hawaii. After retiring from practicing law in 1994 Bill became interested in the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement after reading "Hawaiian Sovereignty: Do the Facts Matter?" by Thurston Twigg-Smith. Bill worked pro-bono full time out of his home challenging laws and programs that he believed would destroy the melting pot that is the envy of the world. He campaigned against racially exclusive publicly funded programs. In the eyes of the law, Bill believed, race should not matter. Burge was a calm, measured, kind, generous person, who thought deeply, spoke softly, and strolled slowly, much like his lanky maternal grandfather, Norman O. Coffey, whom he greatly admired. He was a scholar, an excellent student, a freethinker, a rugged individual. His favorite presidents were Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. He loved Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Hemingway, The Ballad of Sam McGee and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. He was an avid athlete. He loved swimming, from the first time he stepped in a pond. He was a Boy Scout. He played football in high school and was on the Bayside High School Swim Team. He was on the UVA Varsity Boxing Team (Go, Cavaliers!) He was a runner, who ran up Tantalus regularly and finished the Iron Man three 3 times. He loved to snowboard and refused to give it up until age 82. He loved to compete and was the 100IM National Swim Champion in the 80+ division as recently as 2013. He was inspired by physical and moral courage and was brave to the core as his health declined in the last year. Now let us be inspired by his courage. H. William Burgess is survived by his loving wife, Sandra Puanani Burgess, of Honolulu, his daughter, Elizabeth Burgess Frampton, of Encinitas, California, his daughter, Rebecca and her husband, David McCubbin, of Oklahoma City, his son John Timothy and his wife Luisa Burgess, of Waialua, HI; his stepson, Toti and his wife Tracy Manhan, of Ewa Beach, HI; grandchildren, Francie Love, of Chicago, Thomas Love and David Love, of Oklahoma City, Kalli Frampton, of Pasadena, CA, Kate Frampton, of Orange County, CA, Toti's son, Tyler Kamahao Davis, of Pukalani, Maui, and his sister, Anne Burgess, of Blowing Rock, NC. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, John Raymond Burgess. Bill and Fran's son, Bill Burgess, Jr., passed away in 2009, in California. A memorial service for H. William Burgess will be held on Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 4:00 PM at the Pacific Club, 1451 Queen Emma Street, Honolulu. Aloha Business Attire. In lieu of flowers or other gifts, Bill's family invites you to make a contribution in Bill's memory to one of the following organizations: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, Mediation Center of the Pacific, Heritage Foundation or Hillsdale College. Contributions may be given to the family at the service, or mailed c/o Keli'I Akina, 335 Merchant Street #3377, Honolulu, HI 96801.

- Denotes U.S. Military Veteran