PETE THOMPSON / 1949-2015

Teacher, Oahu activist fought evictions, H-3

By Gary T. Kubota/

In the 1970s, Pete Thompson was a major voice in movements to stop the eviction of Waiahole-Waikane residents and to keep the H-3 freeway from going through Moanalua Valley.

His political essays and lectures explored the relationships of power among developers, landowners and politicians, and he spoke in favor of preserving farmland, Hawaiian cultural sites and the rural lifestyle of Windward Oahu.

As a teacher, he organized geopolitical tours to the valley and helped in demonstrations before the state Land Use Commission.

Thompson, who went from being a University of Hawaii ethnic studies instructor to eventually an investment broker rated among the top 100 nationwide, died of cancer complications at a hospice in Palolo on March 2. He was 65.

“Pete Thompson was one of the most dynamic people I’ve ever known in my life,” said writer George Cooper, co-author of “Land and Power in Hawaii.”

“Pete was the first person from whom I learned anything about how to research political and economic power in Hawaii.”

Pete Kaulula‘au Gustave Thompson, a graduate of Kamehameha Schools, was born in Honolulu.

Thompson, described by colleagues as possessing a “brilliant mind,” helped in developing the first curriculum about Native Hawaiians in the ethnic studies program at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

“Everybody knew Pete was the intellectual giant of the group,” said Lawrence Kamakawiwoole, the first director of the ethnic studies program. “He was successful at whatever he put his mind to.”

Outside the university, he criticized attempts to convert farmland into residential developments in the Waiahole-Waikane area. The state, averting a major confrontation by residents and supporters, stepped in to purchase 600 acres in Waiahole-Waikane.

Thompson became chairman of “For People, Land and Sea, Stop TH-3,” a coalition of groups that opposed a third freeway to Windward Oahu. Thompson also spoke in favor of developing jobs in Windward Oahu to reduce traffic.

The H-3 freeway was eventually developed but the state built it through Halawa Valley.

As a broker for Smith Barney, Thompson was ranked 51st among investment brokers in the United States in 2008, reporting assets under management of $1.6 billion, according to

He was a board member of the Hawaii People’s Fund and the Hawaii Institute of Public Affairs.

He supported his wife, Sylvia, in opening the gourmet vegan food restaurant Licious Dishes and a raw vegan gourmet catering company and restaurant Greens and Vines.

Thompson is survived by his wife, Sylvia; and son, Travis.

The family is having a scattering of ashes at 10 a.m. Sunday on the Diamond Head side of Kewalo Basin, overlooking Pete’s favorite surf spot, Rocky Point.

On April 12, a “Celebration of Life” is planned at Kapiolani Community College’s Ka‘ikena Restaurant from 2 to 6 p.m.

Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased