23rd LACA – Las Vegas Connection Scholarship Luncheon celebrates “Lana’i – Pleasant Memories Ne’er Forgotten”

by Coochie Cayan

The 23rd annual LACA Las Vegas Connection Scholarship Luncheon convened on Saturday, September 22, 2018, at the newly renovated ‘Ohana Room (California Hotel) with smiling Lanaians and friends.  A Hawaiian “Oli Aloha” (welcome chant) was offered by Coochie Tanodra Cayan (LACA board secretary) and an Invocation read by Ruth Nakasone (LACA board treasurer) to welcome everyone. A moment of silence was observed to honor all LACA and Lanai folks who have ua hala recently.

This year’s LACA Scholarships were awarded in May, 2018 to two deserving seniors – Leslie Nabor for the $1,500 Thomas Roy Nunotani Scholarship, and to Christopher Tan for the $1,000 Suzanne Damian Pascua Scholarship.  Congratulations to both of you!

An excellent buffet lunch was enjoyed by everyone as the Kevin Brown Trio played authentic Hawaiian music.  The program began with recognition of Na Kupuna and their longevity with the LACA board activities which included Ruth Nakasone, Sue Damian, and Juan “Johnny” Tanodra.  Both Sue and Johnny were on the original “Lanai Connection” planning committee 23 years ago!  

Folks were asked to share their “pleasant memories” of living on Lana’i.  Garek Gaboya shared his mother was Tina and his grandmother was Ursula Saloricman.  At a recent family reunion, he looked for the old house, took pictures and recalled growing up at his grandma’s home on Block 46.  

Rose Anbe recalled respecting all our elders.  She grew up on Block 21 near the Nobui’s, the Morita’s, the Hirayama’s and other families.  Rose saw Victor “Thor” Timbreza at another table and noted he was a classmate too.  LACA thanks Rose for volunteering to take photos at the luncheon.  

Nora Miranda shared growing up on Block 35 meant we were near the community Rubbish Pile and that is where us kids would rummage for bike parts and other “treasures.”  She misses Lana’i with the long ago pineapple fields, but does not miss the pineapple bugs that went into your clothes and nose!  Her uncle, Juan “Johnny” Tanodra added that Block 35 had a lot of musicians.  In his day, there was a lot of events at the Social Hall where they all played music and enjoyed the party too.

David Gaboya, brother of Garek, remembered the pineapple fields and working there in his youth.  He said the #1 fields were fun working in the summer and visiting his grandmother.

Jojo Endrina Timbreza shared her wedding day blues at the Sacred Hearts Church.  After the wedding ceremony, everyone headed to Pu’u Pehe (Sweetheart Island) at Hulopoe Beach for the last blessing.  Jojo and Thor waited in front of the church for their ride, but Aue! everyone had left.  Luckily, Dolpho Sanchez was driving by and stopped to ask them if they needed a ride!  They made it to Sweetheart Island and received the last blessing for their wedding vows!

Doris Anbe shared how they enjoyed the flower gardens of Lana’i especially the beautiful Ito garden with so many flowers.  Her son really loves Lana’i, and so she helped them plan their memorable wedding and dinner at the Koele Lodge.  Doris and her family continues to visit Lana’i and enjoys catching the ferry to Maui too.

Meanwhile, the raffles and silent auction was busy with tickets and bids.  This year’s most sought after raffle were a Tahitian black pearl necklace valued at $1,500; a single black Tahitian pearl necklace valued at more than $500; and five sunrise shell necklaces also valued at more than $200 each.  These beautiful pieces were donated by LACA supporter Herman Helemano Lee, Hawaiian artist.  Lucky Donna Lloyd, wife of Ted Lloyd (Tanodra ‘Ohana) won the Tahitian black pearl necklace and Sue Damian won the single Tahitian black pearl necklace.  The sunrise shell necklaces were won by the mother-daughter team of Joy Jacobs and Stacie Nefalar.  Other raffle items included a handmade ukulele (to Doris Anbe) and a wall clock by Pedring Dugay, two pineapple design clocks (Monica Cockett and Stacie Neffaler) by Ricky Tamashiro, and a Lana’i Playhouse print (to Jason Gaboya).  The California Hotel $100 dinner certificate was won by Thor Timbreza and the five-day California Hotel certificate won by Sharon Gaboya.  All Silent Auction items were settled with the winning bidders.  All proceeds from the raffles and Silent Auction goes towards the LACA Scholarship Fund to Lana’i High School who awards two deserving seniors yearly.  Donations are gratefully accepted throughout the year, too.

The exciting surprise of the luncheon was the appearance of Vacation Hawaii’s media crew, Kevin Kaneshiro to interview LACA folks on the 23rd year celebration.  Unbeknownst to all, the Hawaii News Now newscasters, Steve Uyehara and Grace Lee were the interviewers and video-taped the excited Lanaians and guests.  Most of the attendees posed for photos with Steve and Grace to share on social media immediately.  The Hawaii News Now team especially wanted to tape the group singing the alma mater.  Everyone gathered around Na Kupuna and sang their hearts out!!!  It was quite joyous and the news team had fun talking story with folks and were appreciative of the leis and makana (gifts) presented to them.  What a superb ending to the 23rd scholarship reunion!

LACA looks forward to the 2019 scholarship luncheon and seeing you and your ohana and classmates there!  Come and join in the festivities!

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