BOB HERKES / 1931 – 2014Isle politician showed ‘fierce dedication’ to Hawaii island
By Leila Fujimori / firstname.lastname@example.org
Hawaii island politician Bob Herkes served 23 years in public office, advocating for the people he represented, and was a retired hotel executive who worked 40 years in the hospitality industry. He died at Hilo Medical Center on Thursday at age 83.
"Hawaii has lost a dedicated and passionate public servant who championed protecting consumer rights during his 18 years in the state House of Representatives," House Speaker Joe Souki said.
Herkes, who grew up in Hilo, served as county councilman from 1984-88, state senator in 1988, and state representative from 1992-2000 and from 2002-2012, primarily representing the Puna and Kona districts.
The Volcano resident chose to forego re-election to the state House seat representing District 5 (Mountain View to Kealakekua) to make an unsuccessful bid for the Senate in 2012.
He was proud of legislation that reduced insurance rates and brought relief for homeowners facing foreclosure.
Herkes, with Sen. Rosalyn Baker, was a chief architect of the 2011 foreclosure law, Act 48, which gives qualified owner-occupants of Hawaii homes the option of having a dispute-resolution professional assist with foreclosure mitigation in front of a lender representative before a foreclosure sale can proceed.
He is credited with creating legislation to eliminate telephone party lines on Hawaii island, funding for the Ocean View well, bringing the first medical van to serve the Kau District and establishing a disaster shelter in Kau.
Herkes was also responsible for relocating the Ironman Triathlon to Kona from Oahu and for founding the Hawaii Hospital Hall of Fame.
Longtime friend and retired Big Island Visitors Bureau Executive Director Ken "Bones" Johnston said he was surprised Herkes went into politics, but despite their different party alliances, he served as Herkes' campaign manager.
"I knew his integrity and his honesty, and it didn't matter to me he was a Democrat and I was a Republican," he said. "It was that kind of friendship.
"He looked after his community, which was large but small in numbers, like Volcano, Naalehu, Pahala and rural areas of the Big Island. He was very concerned about what happened with the hospital, the phone service and cable service," Johnston said, adding that it was "always for the good of the community he served."
"He was very much in favor of tourism and did everything he could to support tourism," Johnston said.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Herkes' "long career in public service brought about countless benefits for Hawaii island, including his integral role in incorporating the appropriation for the first FEMA-certified shelter in Kau, providing a drinking water system for Ocean View, and establishing a mobile medical van to bring basic medical services to rural areas."
"His fierce dedication to the people of the Big Island and our entire state will be remembered," he said.
Born in Iloilo City in the Philippines and raised in Hilo, Herkes was a third-generation Hawaii island resident.
Herkes was a retired hospitality industry executive, getting his start in 1951 with Coconut Island Resort, the Cannon Club (1951-53), the Naniloa Hotel, Kona Inn and Kona Marlin Club (1953-56).
He served as vice president for Inter-Island Resorts from 1959-1974, and the company saw expansion under his oversight including the Maui Surf, Kona Surf and Naniloa Surf, Johnston said. He was general manager for Kona Surf Hotel (1979-86).
He is survived by wife Jo-Anna; sons Bobby, Kenny and Doug; brother John; sister Jana Herkes; and granddaughter Sara.
Visitation will be from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Sept. 27 at Dodo Mortuary in Hilo. Services will be held at 11 a.m.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased