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Roger Close

Na Mana`o Ulu Wale



Date line: 1:28PM, August 4, 1944, Kapiolani Hospital, Honolulu, Territory of Hawai`i. Roger Leslie Close is born to parents Lloyd and Betty Close.

My parents were of simple means. My mother was a homemaker with several part time jobs along the way. My dad worked civil service at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for 30 years and the state highway department for another seven after his retirement. My dad loved Hawai`i, its history; culture; and year-round, outdoor splendor. He made sure I was a child of the islands and their many treasures.

We moved from the leeward side of O`ahu to Kāne`ohe as I became a second grader at Benjamin Parker School. Elementary school wasn’t easy for me. I spent too much time at the windows, talking with others, and wasting time when I was supposed to be doing school work.

My parents were worried I would not make it in a public high school. Consequently, they took the necessary steps and financial sacrifices for a private school that would go beyond offering, indeed cramming an education…if not into my head, down my throat. It worked! Although I continued to struggle and was on “academic probation” most of the time between seventh grade and my senior year, I graduated from Punahou in 1962.

After commuting each day for six years from the windward side to the big city and a large school, the smallness of Pacific University in the small college town of Forest Grove, Oregon, was very appealing. And then…what does a student with a less than stellar academic record do? He becomes an elementary school teacher for 10 years and an elementary principal for 16 years. If they only knew!

My favorite part of being an elementary educator was listening to parents with grave concerns about their kids who were struggling in reading, hating to write, and/or not doing their homework. After letting them air their concerns, I would ask permission to offer my standard advice. “Back off, provide interest and encouragement, work on the child’s strengths, and provide opportunities for the child to believe he can do or be anything he wants. Then someday he could possibly be a teacher…or a principal.” Maybe he could even write for “da pepa!”

Prior to my 26 years as an educator in Hillsboro, Oregon, there were three years in the Army with a tour in Viet Nam and a year with the Oregon State Department of Forestry. After leaving education, I had fun with motel maintenance and recreation district management on the Oregon coast, and package delivery in Friday Harbor.

Over many UPS boxes I met my forever partner and love of my life, Valerie. I am also the proud father of two grown daughters who live in the Portland area.

After seven months on Molokai and in Hālawa Valley in 2006, I discovered a truth I have had a sense of for over 45 years. You can take the boy out of the islands, but you can’t take the islands out of the boy…even a haole boy!

My goal with the Na Mana`o column is to offer the reader an occasional new learning about the Hawai`i we love, a morsel of inspiration, a new perspective, a snippet to arouse you or touch a nerve, or…simply a bit of fluff to lighten your load.

Mahalo for the opportunity to share my random thoughts and casual observations with you.

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