-Chad Kalepa Baybayan
On April 8, 2021, Hawai'i lost a beloved son with the passing of Chad Kalepa Baybayan.
He was a teacher. A student. A deep sea voyager and one of the few individuals in the world to hold the distinction of Pwo Navigator in recognition of Kalepa's ability to look to the heavens to find his way on the ocean and on the land. He was a person of tremendous ability and achievement, having sailed tens of thousands of miles over many, many years with the Polynesian Voyaging (PVS) and the 'Ohana Wa'a as both a navigator and a captain.
If you asked him to define himself, Kalepa would put his role as a family man front and center. He was a husband of nearly 4 decades to Audrey Kaide Baybayan. Together they raised three children in Kailua Kona; daughters Pa'anakala Tanaka (Daniel), and Pukanala Llanes (Bradley), and son 'Aukai (Justynne). Kalepa and Audrey were also fully immersed in the lives of their six grandchildren, La?akea, Namahana, Kalaeula, Tekauri, Napo?o and Kamani. The family was in Seattle helping to care for one of their mo?opuna when Kalepa passed.
Kalepa was born in 1956 on the island of O?ahu to the late Llewellyn Baybayan Sr.and Lillian Suter. The family includes brothers Clayton, Lyle, the late Llewellyn Baybayan Jr.,Theodore Suter, sister Ann Marie and stepfather the late Walter Suter.
Many of us came to know Kalepa through the ocean. He was a canoe paddler, one of the first to be involved with the Hawaiian sailing canoe Mo?olele and a year out of high school became a crew member aboard Hokule?a in 1975. He went on to sail on every subsequent major voyage for the next 40 years.
Kalepa's love of exploration and discovery extended to education. He saw education as a vessel that enabled individuals to reach the destination of their dreams and his own life was proof of that.
While raising his family and working as a ramp agent for United Airlines in Kona, he earned a bachelor's degree in Hawaiian Studies at the Ka Haka ?Ula O Ke?elikolani College of Hawaii Language at the University of Hawai?i at Hilo. Fluent in ?Olelo Hawai?i, Kalepa would go on to earn a master?s degree in education from Heritage College.
And, perhaps it was in this role as educator, that Kalepa's generosity and his deep commitment to the advancement of Hawai?i's and the world's young people can best be seen. He literally shared his knowledge around the world, inspiring young women and men to navigate their own lives, using education as their canoes. In recognition of his passion and his expertise, Kalepa was the first Navigator in Resident at the ?Imiloa Astronomy Center at the University of Hawai?i at Hilo.
For those of us fortunate enough to know Kalepa in the role of friend, he was exactly the person he appeared. Solid. Grounded. Dependable. Tireless in his work and joyful when at play. Plain spoken and honest even at considerable personal cost. He is deeply loved by so many and sorely missed.
Mahalo nui loa from the Baybayan 'ohana to loved ones and friends for all of your expressions of aloha, pule and support.
Please join the family to aloha Kalepa on Thursday, May 6, 2021 at Dodo Mortuary in Hilo from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. COVID-19 testing, screening and strict observance of masking and social distancing protocols will be in place.
Following the viewing, private services will be held in consideration of COVID-19 precautions. The services will be broadcast online and can be accessed via Hokulea.com and https://www.facebook.com/hokuleacrew. Kalepa?s ashes will be scattered at a future date in Lahaina, Maui where he was raised.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased