Hawaii Roots »
In Hawai‘i Since 1896
The best place for me to start is 1896, when my great-grandparents, Daniel and Kathryn Case, moved to Honolulu from Kansas. Both of Daniel’s parents were lawyers; his mother was the first female lawyer in Kansas, just one of a long tradition of strong and independent women in my family. Daniel was also a lawyer; we still do not know exactly why they moved here, but maybe there were just too many Case lawyers in Kansas!
Daniel and Kathryn lived in Honolulu for a few years. In 1903, they moved to Maui, where they spent the rest of their lives. Daniel practiced law for several years until he was appointed circuit judge on Maui by President Harding, eventually serving in that position for over 20 years. (After reappointment by President Roosevelt, he liked to joke that he was acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats.) On his passing in 1946, the Advertiser editorialized that the Territory lost a citizen whose contributions to the welfare and development of the Islands were spread out over a multitude of activities.
Daniel and Kathryn had three children: Althea (later Marrack); Cleo, later a much-beloved teacher at Roosevelt High School; and Hib, my grandfather. Hib graduated from the University of Hawai‘i, served with the Army in the First World War, married my grandmother, Betty, who had moved here from California to teach in North Shore public schools, and went into the sugar business, working his entire career for Grove Farm on Kaua‘i.
Three sons were born to my grandparents in Lihu‘e and raised there. Bill followed his dad into the sugar business, working for C. Brewer his entire career on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu and the Big Island; he has passed away. Dan followed his grandfather and great-grandparents into law and continues to practice in Honolulu. Mary Ellen (“Casey”) Beck, Hib’s adopted child of his second wife, Marie, also a much-beloved teacher at Kaua‘i High, is a travel agent in Honolulu.
My father, Jim, served in the Navy during the Second World War and then went on to Harvard Law School. There he met my mother, Suzanne, who was attending Wellesley College and whose own roots lay in the Midwest. They returned to Hawai‘i in 1949 upon his graduation and over the objections of my Missouri grandparents (“you’re taking her where ..?”), which were reportedly overcome only upon a promise to them that she would graduate from college (and she did, earning her degree from UH in 1958 after having most of her children.)
On the Big Island
Following Daniel and Kathryn’s lead, my parents started off in Honolulu for a few years before moving to Hilo in 1951, where my dad joined a small law firm, the oldest in the state, with big dreams. (After over fifty years, he still practices in Honolulu with that same firm, now Carlsmith Ball, one of Hawai‘i’s largest with nine offices on O‘ahu, Maui and the Big Island and beyond Hawai‘i, and where I worked for twenty years until my election to Congress.) They also wanted the same Neighbor Island upbringing for their children as he had had, and that’s what they and we got. Their six children were born and raised in Hilo: besides me, the oldest, they are John (d. 2004), Suzanne (director of The Nature Conservancy in Hawai‘i), Russell (a business attorney in Boise, Idaho), Elisabeth (a realtor at Coldwell Banker Pacific in Honolulu), and Brad (senior economist at the National Assn. of Real Estate Investment Trusts in D.C.)
A Commitment to Hawai‘i
In their lives on the Big Island and Honolulu, my parents, besides raising six kids and leading full professional lives, followed their predecessors in emphasizing community service. My dad, for example, founded and served for a quarter century with the Association for Retarded Citizens/Hawai‘i chapter, dedicated to the welfare of children with severe disabilities. My mother, the first politician in the family, was elected twice to the Hawai‘i School Advisory Council in the ’60s before earning a masters degree from UH in Library Services and working as a children’s librarian and school administrator; she has also volunteered her talents in countless capacities from President of the Waiakea-Kai Elementary PTA, to board chair of the Hawai‘i Theatre for Youth and trustee of Mid-Pacific Institute. No doubt their example led me to this basic life formula: seek knowledge and do good.
In our second century in Hawai‘i, the descendants of Daniel and Kathryn Case are well into five generations and around a hundred in number. While many of us have made their home here and some have gone on to full lives elsewhere, we all, I believe, carry with us that unbreakable bond to Hawai‘i and a sense of obligation to make it better.