Tommy Holmes, a founder (1945-1993)

On August 23, 1993, Tommy Holmes, one of the founders of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, died of a heart attack while paddling an outrigger canoe off Waikiki. One of his lasting legacies is The Hawaiian Canoe, the most comprehensive modern study of the subject, published in 1981 and reprinted in a second edition in September, 1993. On August 28, his ashes were carried out to sea by the Hokule‘a and scattered off Waikiki. Hundreds attended the ceremony.

Remembrance by Keali‘ipu‘aimoku & Wallace Froiseth

“Tommy Holmes was like another hanai son to Wally and me. We both had the deepest respect and admiration for him and supported his many interests and human causes. He was very respectful of everyone. One of Tommy's main interests was the Polynesian Voyaging Society and Hokule‘a. He was the driving force to raise funds to make the first voyage possible.

“Tommy was an exceptional waterman; he was adept at everything to do with the ocean and ocean sports. We first knew him when he was very young through the sport of surfing and canoeing, at which he was very skillful. He was always looking for new challenges and ways to appreciate nature. When he participated in anything he did it with all his heart and soul, all the way and whatever it took. He helped with the challenging food preparations for Hokule‘aa’s first voyage. His careful arrangements to obtain the proper plants and animals, such as Maxwell, the pua‘a (pig), Hoku, the Hawaiian ‘ilio (dog), and the proper moa (chicken) showed us what an interested and dedicated person he was. In Tahiti after the first trip Tommy assisted us in planting at Tahiti's Gauguin Museum grounds all the plants he had cared for on the trip. Tommy was a person always wanting to do the best job he could, as shown in his definitive work The Hawaiian Canoe. We're sure that Tommy had a sense of fulfillment, happiness and peace in creating all of these interests for all of us to enjoy.

“Over dinner Tommy and Moku discussed their high cholesterol counts, which he accepted philosophically, almost like it was no big thing and he would not slow down. He continued to do the things he wanted to do in his life. Through all of this we both vowed to take better care of our conditions. For Tommy we feel we must accept his death as the loss of a creative individual. His mind was precious, but mortal. Aloha Tommy, we love you and deeply appreciate having known you. We’ll all miss you.”

Article Online at PVS Website