I remember the first time I heard Billy speak at a fund raiser. I was amazed at how he had the ability to so smooth transition between proper English and Pidgen. It was mesmerizing! I thought to myself… Bruhhh this guy get one good speech writer. I was young and politics was for old people. But this Mayor had me engaged and listening.
A few years later my mom Sally Wehrsig, had found her way into a County Office working for the Office of Aging. Caretaking being a strong portion of her life. She pushed and was able to acquire funds to build a small library for Caretakers for support and education in the often thankless service they provide. Sadly right before the library completion. My mom passed away. In her memory, the library was dedicated and named after her. At the dedication Billy came to speak. As i sat there still in a recovery from the lost of my mom. Billy spoke to the crowd about my mother, things he knew about her and things that made this library both important and special. Then he turned to us. My dad, my brother and I and our families.
Billy told us. “I know your mom didn’t want this named after her. She wanted no credit for what she did. That’s how she was. She was led by her heart and drive to help help people. So we have decided to name it after her but in honor of her. She has earned this for countless hours of dedication to the community paid for in love. I am also proclaiming today Sally Wehrsig Day in her Honor and memory for all she has done.” As a man we are not suppose to cry, but we all had a moment.
When he finished up, we all walked up to thank Billy and hug him. As I waited I looked at the podium from where he spoke. The only paper on that was the proclamation. When I got home I called a friend who was close with Billy to tell him about the experience. I told him about the speech. He was like ” he’s cool ah?” I told him the speech was cherry! Who writes for him? He told me “No one… Its all from the head and heart.”
From the head and heart… That’s who Billy was to me. He spoke to you when you had just met as if he had known you for years. He was well educated, but still ten feet in his roots. All these years later I realized why his speeches touched so many. Why it was so mesmerizing. How he was able to make that connection, that impact on so many. That relation that transcended across all classes. True Eunoia. Because he spoke from the head and heart.
Billy meant a lot to a lot of people. I was blessed to have inbox chats with him recently and tell him this story I am telling you now. He inspired me to educate myself but remember who i am. and though i am no where close to the man he is and what he has accomplished in such a short time. He supported local events, Hawaii Businesses. He was a servant of the people. He was often seen in the line up at Honoli and other surf spots. Talking with people out there. Catching concerns as well as waves.
I was raised that a way to show respect to people we love. Is to honor their memory.
Billy it was an Honor to have you as my Mayor, My Hero… My Friend! I hope that in the little pieces of gold you handed to me in thought. I can use it to its full extent. Hope i can inspire people like you do. Show the meaning of Aloha! Like I learned from you that first time I seen you speak. Like the way you presented yourself in my moms honor. I extend my Aloha to you, your Ohana, your friends and everyone you reached in this time of lost. Like the saying goes “Legends never die” May your words of inspiration echo thru the ages.
William Punapaiaalaikahala Kenoi. Billy! In Aloha to you, May we all strive to live more…
From the Head and Heart!
Aloha Billy ~ TK
Please feel free to share your memories as well. and it shouldn’t have to be said. But be respectful!