Trump’s Showdown


FRONTLINE looks at President Trump’s fight against the investigation of his campaign and whether he obstructed justice. With the threat of impeachment growing, Trump wages an unprecedented war against the Special Counsel, the FBI and even his own Attorney General.



Does Our Local Criminal Justice System Work?


Our criminal justice system is a unique balance of moving parts – forces tasked with protecting the community, as well as the rights of the accused. INSIGHTS convenes representatives of these multiple forces, including American Civil Liberties Union Hawai‘i, the Prosecuting Attorney, the Public Defender and the probation system, for this live discussion. Does the system work?


Join us during our live discussion by phoning in, or leaving us a comment on Facebook or Twitter. INSIGHTS is also live streamed on and Facebook Live.


Phone Lines:
462-5000 on Oahu or 800-238-4847 on the Neighbor Islands.




Visit the PBS Hawai‘i Facebook page.


Join our live discussion using #pbsinsights



Second Chance Kids


FRONTLINE details the fight over the fate of juveniles in prison for murder, following a landmark Supreme Court ruling. The episode examines the impact of the order to reevaluate thousands of juvenile murder cases and follows two of the first convicts to be released.


State Senate District 19 / O‘ahu Charter Amendment 15


During the first half of this INSIGHTS, four-term West O‘ahu incumbent Senator Will Espero is scheduled to face outspoken community activist Kurt Fevella. Improving education and cooling classrooms are top District 19 issues. “I don’t just hear about the problems in ‘Ewa – I live them,” says Fevella.


Then on the show’s second half, we ask: How long should the Honolulu Mayors, City Council members and the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney be allowed to serve? We’ll look at the pros and cons of term extensions and term limits on proposed O‘ahu Charter Amendment 15.


Your questions and comments are welcome via phone, email and via Twitter during the Live Broadcast.


Phone Lines:
462-5000 on Oahu or 800-238-4847 on the Neighbor Islands.




Join our live discussion using #pbsinsights


State Senate District 13


State Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland, who has represented District 13 for 26 years, is retiring at the end of this term, leaving this local race without an incumbent. District 13 includes a portion of Downtown Honolulu and the outlying neighborhoods of Nu‘uanu and Liliha. The District 13 candidates scheduled to appear in this INSIGHTS discussion: Former State Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto; attorney Keone Nakoa; and current State Rep. Karl Rhoads. They’ll discuss some of the biggest issues affecting the district – especially homelessness – and how they each plan to handle these issues, if elected.


Your questions and comments are welcome via phone, email and via Twitter during the Live Broadcast.


Phone Lines:
462-5000 on Oahu or 800-238-4847 on the Neighbor Islands.




Join our live discussion using #pbsinsights


Daniel Case


In honor of the late Daniel Case, PBS Hawaii presents this in-memoriam encore of this episode from March, 2015.


From a childhood spent on a Kauai plantation, Daniel Case grew up to become one of Hawaii’s longest-serving attorneys. Case shares how he stood guard at Punahou School on the night of December 7, 1941; represented aviator Charles Lindbergh; and with his wife, Carol, raised four children, one of whom became a billionaire.


This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, Aug. 3 at 11:00 pm and Sunday, Aug. 7 at 4:00 pm.


Daniel Case Audio


Download the Transcript




There was something from your high school years about your being elected a class officer. But I think it said that your nickname was— 




–Mouse, because you kinda kept quiet, and when you answered questions, you left a lot out. You just weren’t real talkative.


Well, I was shy. Shy, and I was very young, younger than most of the people in my class. I was no Tyrone Power, so, somebody called me Mouse. And in those days, you’d be surprised how many boys particularly had nicknames, and they couldn’t shake ‘em until they left.


Did you not like your nickname?


I hated it.


Oh. Because it sounded mousey; right?


It was kind of wimpy-ish, and … there was some truth in it. [CHUCKLE]


That shy boy who lacked confidence in school grew up to be a strong legal advocate in a prominent law firm, and a family whose children include billionaire Steve Case. Daniel Case, next, on Long Story Short.


Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawaii’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.


Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. Daniel Case turned ninety in 2015 after working into his late eighties. He spent sixty years at the same prominent Honolulu law firm, retiring in 2013. He’s known for having both influence and humility. And he’s a devoted family man who sometimes gets choked up with emotion when he speaks of his wife Carol or his children. In the year 2000, his number-three kid, internet billionaire Steve Case, bought the former neighbor island sugar plantation where his father grew up. Daniel Case’s childhood had the trappings of privilege without the cash, but he says his life was rich in outdoor adventures.


I grew up on “cow I”. And that’s the way we all pronounced it, even the Hawaiians. [CHUCKLES]


I can always tell somebody who grew up on Kauai. I say that, ‘cause I’m from Honolulu, and I didn’t grow up there at that time. And it’s sort of capital C-O-W … I.




“Cow I”. [CHUCKLE]


I agree. No; it’s uh, it’s accepted now. But say it, I say “cow I”. [CHUCKLE]


What was it like? You grew up on Grove Farm Sugar Plantation.


I did. It was … very rural. My father got his first job out of the Army at Grove Farm as a luna, as they all start at the bottom. And then, G.N. Wilcox needed a bookkeeper, and apparently had the talent, so he made him his bookkeeper. And then, he became the office manager, and all that stuff. But they built a plantation home, no architect, just Japanese carpenter. They were very good. And they built a house for he and my mother. But it was a nice house. It had four bedrooms in it, a normal house, and plenty of room, and a nice big yard, and everything. So, it was very pleasant.


When you say your dad started out as a luna, what did he do? What kind of luna work?


Those days, when they had a sugar plantation, you had crews of workers. Hard work. And many of them, as you know from history, Hawaiians began it, but they really didn’t like the work, and they brought in Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, and then Puerto Rico and different places. But they started because of the hot sun. They all congregated at about four-thirty in the morning, and the lunas, the people that were in charge of different areas would meet and agree on which fields needed work today, whether it’s irrigation or harvesting, or clearing the fields, or whatever it was. And then, after he quit being a luna, then he’d go to the office. But otherwise, he’d then go back and supervise whatever area his group was.


So, he made this transition to indoor work, and on up the chain.


Right; right. So, he just turned out to be good at it, and so, he did it all his business life. He’d always been very good with numbers and investments.


What did you do with yourself as a boy growing up in the country on Kauai?


Well, I had a good life. We lived next door to the manager’s house. And it was a wonderful eight-acre estate, really. ‘Cause it was built by G.N. Wilcox for his son-in-law, Digby Sloggett, who married a Wilcox. So, they had a tennis court closer to our house than his, a wonderful swimming pool where we all learned to swim, a great front yard, royal palm drive-in and a port cochere.


What kind of trouble did you get up to?


Actually, we never had any trouble. We honestly didn’t. We were busy all the time. Nobody had play dates then. The kids from Lihue School, it’s only about a mile home. So, we’d would walk back. And then, those that were able to come, would come and join us for tennis, and swimming, and touch football, and all that stuff. So, we always had something to do.


Mostly sports? Not exploring and playing with sticks, and …


Well, we took a lot of hikes. Partly, we could just go without a car. Across the street, there was a valley, up from the mill to the Grove Farm museum. We would hike that. We could walk to Lihue town, and we with a little help from somebody who had a car, we would go to Kipu Falls, which was down to Lihue valley as we call it. If we were really lucky, they’d take us to Poipu and go to Brennecke’s to bodysurf.


What was your expectation of yourself, as you were growing up? What did you think you would become?


Nothing; I didn’t have the faintest. In my own mind, I said, you go down the middle of the road. [CHUCKLE]


So, you didn’t have these, you know, striking career goals, where you had to do this, that, and that by a certain time; not at all?


Never. Somewhere along the line, because my father was never—they never paid much. There got a lot of perquisites; a free house, a yardman, n=and medical privileges, but they didn’t pay them much. I always wanted to make a million bucks. [CHUCKLE] That was my only goal.


Really? And yet, you were perceived as a child of privilege. Well, you did have a lot of entitlements.


We did.


But you’re saying your family didn’t have a lot of money.


Yeah. Yeah; money in the bank. My father had to borrow money to send me to Punahou.


When Daniel Case was in the eighth grade, his parents sent him to boarding school on Oahu, back when Punahou still had student boarders on campus. Young Case’s senior year of high school was disrupted by the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.


What was it like living in the dorm when you were in eighth grade, through almost your senior year?


Well, it’s wonderful. Roughly, thirty-three seems to be a magic number, but it could have been a little more. Well, we had thirty-three friends in different grades. They had some in from seventh grade, that was a little young. So, we got to know a lot of people from the grades, about five grades in a row, and six sometimes. And so, that was helpful, getting to know people around the campus, and knowing the school people, and following the activities, mainly the sports. You know, we were right above Alexander Field, where we used to play football all the time, and then they built a beautiful track. The swimming pool was right below it. So, we followed all those sports every day. [CHUCKLE] And participated in many of them, and so it was just a very good life, one of the happiest times in my life right there.


And yet, you didn’t have your parents, you weren’t in your parents’ home. Did you miss them? Did you miss Mom?


Well, [CHUCKLE] in truth, we were just happy the way we were. Happy to go home, but happy to be there.


You were at a critical age during Pearl Harbor.




You were on campus when the Pearl Harbor attack came.


Yes, I was. Yeah; we had finished breakfast, and there was a building called Dole Hall then, where both the boys and the girls always ate together. And they mixed the tables, so we would socialize a little bit, and we’d talk after the meals. And we’d gone back, and we’d seen some antiaircraft, it turned out to be. We didn’t know that. But then we heard on the radio that there’d been an invasion, so we all went down to the girls’ dorm. They had better radio facilities there, and we listened to Roosevelt’s speech. Then, as I say, the next day, really, but effectively Monday morning, the engineers took over the campus. So, we finished school going to Central Union Church just briefly, figuring out what to do. But we all dug trenches, we had gas masks, and all that stuff.


You wore gas masks as a general rule during the day; right?


That started fairly soon; yeah.


And did you ever do any guarding of the campus? I know at Kamehameha Schools, that was done.


Well, that very first two nights, we did. They had compulsory ROTC then. And so, the very first night, Sunday night, those of that lived in the dorm that were in ROTC, of which there were five or six, were sent up to Rocky Hill, which is the hill above the campus, but had the water tank for that whole school. And they spread us around Rocky Hill to protect the stuff. My particular one was protecting the water tank. And we all loaded rifles, but we really didn’t know how to shoot ‘em. [CHUCKLE] It was a very dark night. The Japanese had planned it very, very well. So, we were just all kinda itchy. [CHUCKLE] But luckily, none of us shot each other. [CHUCKLE]


After graduating from Punahou in 1942, Daniel Case headed off to Williams College in Massachusetts. He joined the Navy in 1945, serving for four years, before going to law school at the University of Denver. While he was waiting to take the Bar, a fluke accident brought Case back to Hawaii to recuperate. Here, he would stay for a six-decade legal career.


I think I’ve read that you and your friends were … you may have, on your own, bought or somehow you ran a hotel while you were going to law school?


Yeah. Well, when I first got back, and my friend—Al Herman, his name was, very good friend. We got out in April, and Williams didn’t start until late September. So, he was gonna get married, and so he worked for his father, which was a downtown hotel. Hundred rooms, but third-rate in every sense of the meaning. [CHUCKLE] And so, I was with him and looking around, and there was a a restaurant across the street called the Owl Café, selling for three thousand dollars. Happened to be three thousand I got getting out of the Navy, severance pay. And foolishly, I bought it. And I ran it. I had no experience, just stupidity. But I did run it, and then with that and the G.I. Bill, I was able to get through my last year of college.


So, you made a profit?


I profited from a place to live and self-sufficiency. But I sold it, after we got into law school for the same three thousand bucks. So, I made about five cents an hour. [CHUCKLE] And then, his father trusted me, liked me, offered my friend and I, the lease of the hotel free, without any down payment, and we just took it over and ran it while we went through law school. So, that experience was helpful.


So now, you’ve graduated from law school. What was your area of expertise in law school? Had you picked it?


No; no. You really didn’t pick specialties. Those were days of generalism. In school, you could take different courses, but we all basically took the same courses. And back then, most of the law firms wanted the associates to be fairly general in the beginning, and learn how to do different specialties. And then, after, oh, a year or two, or three, if they showed an interest and skill in a particular area, then they would go in that area. So, I didn’t have any; I just went to work. [CHUCKLE]


And you weren’t hoping you’d be chosen for this particular type of law?


No; just wanted to practice.


I imagine a lot of people didn’t come home from law school; they stayed on the mainland and worked. Was it always your plan to come home?


Not really. I left Hawaii when was seventeen, and except for a stint in the Navy, I really hadn’t been back ‘til I was twenty-seven. I was away ten years, so I didn’t know if I had any old friends or anything. So, it didn’t have a must draw to it. And in fact, in law school, a couple of us were good friends; we planned to sort of start a law firm of our own. Nothing serious, four of us, that’s what we’d do after we take the Bar exam and decide. So, we didn’t do any more than talk about it. But then, we had to take the Bar. And strangely, this is fate. My best friend and I said, Let’s work in an ice plant and toughen up a little. And we’d been working, and a hundred-pound cake of ice broke my foot. [CHUCKLE]




So, I was in a cast for a short spell, and I started saying, Maybe I’d better just go home. So, I came home.


Home, being?




To Oahu, or Kauai? 


My father was still on Kauai. But I never expected to practice anywhere else. So, I looked for a job when I first got here, one particular law firm, Pratt, Tavares & Cassidy, and the Attorney General and the City. None of them offered me a job right away, so I then studied for the Bar. Went home, stayed with my father. My parents had been divorced in 1948; he’d been remarried to a very nice lady, and so I got to know them that way. And studied for the bar, and … came back tried again. And Pratt, Tavares & Cassidy offered me a job, so that’s where I stayed for sixty years.


And in all that time, you didn’t leave that firm.


I was happy. They treated me well, I was happy, I liked being a lawyer, and I liked the clientele we had. Many of the clients, a young lawyer starts to get to know them, and then the older lawyer retires or dies, and there’s a tendency to stay with the client. So, you build relationships, and I was fortunate enough to do that.


Daniel Case recalls a land sale on Maui as part of settling the estate of the late-famed aviator Charles Lindbergh. The fight over Lindbergh’s estate made headlines when an attorney who said he represented Lindbergh’s abducted child tried to claim the Lindbergh land on Maui.


And we filed a notice in the Maui court, and a lawyer from Georgia, never heard of him before or since, filed a claim saying he represented the former Lindbergh child, that he was alive. And so, we had a lot of litigation over it, but his main purpose, we decided, was to get publicity by interviewing Anne Lindbergh and the kids, and all that. So, they didn’t want that.


It was really the lawyer who wanted the publicity.




Not the pretender to the Lindbergh baby identity.


Not the pretender. We don’t know if he exists. So luckily, we were able to get it dismissed by the judge. And so, it was gone, and he didn’t pursue it further. That was interesting.


When I read the names of the people in your law firm that you joined—you said that wasn’t a shoe-in, you had to look for a job. But that was a kick-butt law firm. I mean, those were the Territorial days, and I remember those names as being big cheeses in Hawaii at the time.


Well, they were. Dudley Pratt was a marvelous person, good citizen, very good lawyer, very good in the community, and a wonderful mentor. Judge Tavares was a very bright guy who was the State Attorney General, from which Dudley Pratt hired him. And Judge Cassidy was a well-known prosecutor.


So, when you became an attorney, did you have to go toe-to-toe and head-to-head, and to the jugular with people?


Well, luckily, I wasn’t born to be a litigator. But when I got back from law school, I knew I was shy and not a very good public speaker. So, I went to the Dale Carnegie School after work once a week for five months, which helped a little bit. And then, after I finished it, they asked me to be a teacher. That was manuahi, but I did that for another four months, just for the exposure and trying to get used to it. And I think it helped me. I was never a battering ram litigator, but I did it for a couple of years, did the best I could. And I wasn’t strong at it.


Daniel Case met the love of his life at a friend’s wedding. Carol was a teacher at his alma mater, Punahou. The two got married and raised four children together. At first, the Cases didn’t expect to have a big family.


Our oldest daughter, Carin, was adopted. Because the doctor told Carol she didn’t look like she could have children. So, Frank Spencer, her doctor, wahine doctor, said there was a nice child coming up, and that we might consider it. So, we did. So happens that Carol was pregnant. [CHUCKLE] We didn’t know it ‘til after we’d made the decision. So we stuck with it, and happily so. Then we had a son Danny five months later. And then, thirteen months later, our son Steve.


That was a busy household.




Oh, boy.


And a little over four years later, our son Jeff. So, she had a lot of work and needed a lot of help.


Daniel Case’s third child is America Online cofounder, billionaire Steve Case. In the year 2000, Steve Case bought the former Kauai Sugar Planation where his father grew up. Grove Farm had evolved into a land management company and commercial developer, and it ran into financial trouble. It needed to be saved. For the company and its obligations, Steve Case reportedly paid some one hundred million dollars.


Pretty cool to have a son who’s a white knight.


Well, he started what he did, and made a lot of money. [CHUCKLE]


Did you see that in him as he was growing up?


Oh, I don’t think you could ever see it in him. He was always independent and busy. He never had enough time, which was a clue to something, but I don’t know what. I don’t think he knew, either. But he was always that way, all his life. Today, he’s very restless and wants to do things.


And he is a disrupter. He does things—




Did you see that as a kid? I say that in a positive sense.


No; not in the slightest.


Not; okay. Because basically, you have to go against the grain sometimes, to really make headway.


Well, it’s true. When they were first starting AOL—that wasn’t its name at the time. But the predecessor just wasn’t making it, making any money, so he worked with him, though, and then finally, the guy turned it over to Steve and two other executives and said, You take it over. So, they took it over, and worked on it. And Jim Kimsey was more experienced and a little older, and he became the CEO, and Steve was just number two or three. I don’t know what you would call it. But he then helped push it along very well. He was a good marketer, and has a good thinking mind.


Daniel Case’s most difficult moment came in 2002, as his firstborn son, named after him, lost his life to brain cancer.


He was one wonderful guy. [SNIFFING] Very successful, very popular. He was a Rhodes Scholar, and wonderful investment banker. And helped a lot of people.


Would you agree that the hardest thing for a parent to go through is the death of a child? Any advice you could give other parents who go through something like that?


Just … just work with them with their time off. When they found it, he was already Stage 4. So … it was terminal. So … surgery in the beginning, and got treatment. He lived another sixteen months. We spent a lot of time.


Daniel Case considers his family to be his greatest joy and achievement. At the time of our conversation in February of 2015, Case was about to head out to a retreat on Oahu’s north shore with his loved ones and celebrate his ninetieth birthday.


Do you have a history in your family of longevity?


[CHUCKLE] I think my sister-in-law, Celia Case, was wonderful, looking in the genealogy and stuff; a scrapbook. And I think I would have been the oldest in my family, except my older brother Jim is still alive, [CHUCKLE] and doing pretty well at ninety-four, going on ninety-five. So, I think he holds the family record. [CHUCKLE]


Because you seem like you’re trim and fit, and you know, ageless.


No; it’s not true. We’ve all got a lot of nicks and crannies, and problems. But I’m fortunate to be as healthy as I am.


I mean, you’re driving around, you’re going daily to—you play a regular Bridge game at the Pacific Club. What else do you do?


Well, since I retired, I read a lot. I always have. And a lot of television, including your program, and public television generally. And we have friends. So, it’s a quieter life, clearly.


What do you read?


Almost everything. I love history, I like novels, I like business stuff. I try and mix reading business type books with a novel or a history book, and mix it up. But I like long books. [CHUCKLE]


[CHUCKLE] Oh, big, fat books.


I do. I like many of those. So, I just mix it up, and it keeps me going.


Also in 2015, Daniel Case and his wife Carol celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary. His secret to a long and happy marriage? Give extra love, Case says, and always respect each other. We’d like to thank Kauai born Daniel Case of Honolulu for sharing his story. And thank you for joining us. For PBS Hawaii and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. A hui hou.


For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTune Store, or visit


You did something after your wedding at Oahu Country Club.


[CHUCKLE] I did.


That is still remembered. What did you do?


We hired a bicycle built for two. So, after all the hoopla went on, we went out and got out bike, and pedaled through the port cochere waving, and headed out. [CHUCKLE] So, that was a little unusual.


The last your guests saw of you, you were on a bicycle built for two.




Heading out. [CHUCKLE]


We went so fast, I don’t think anybody, including us, knew what was happening. [CHUCKLE]





Crystal Rose


Attorney Crystal Rose is a Hilo-born litigator with a reputation for being tough, fearless and strategic. She has taken on complex and contentious civil cases – and the results have helped to reshape the business landscape in Hawaii. “I’ve had the privilege…of being able to work on cases and issues that have been multi-faceted, complex. It really does make me tick,” Rose says.


This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, March 9 at 11:00 pm and Sunday, March 13 at 4:00 pm.


Crystal Rose Audio


Download the Transcript




I remember coming to Kamehameha and, you know, it opened my eyes to a bigger city, and all kinds of opportunities that I never knew existed. The classic is, I was so afraid to get on the escalator at Sears because I was sure it was gonna eat my toes.

And you know, that kind of is the local girl coming to the big city. Honolulu was the big city. It really took me a while to get on the escalator.


This Hilo native and Kamehameha Schools graduate is now a standout in the big city of Honolulu as a lawyer known for her tenacity and success in some of Hawaii’s most watched civil cases. Crystal Rose, next, on Long Story Short.


Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawaii’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.


Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. Her name is Crystal Rose, but flowery is not a word many would use to describe this respected business and commercial litigator. For more than two decades, Rose has taken on complex civil cases, reshaping Hawaii’s banking industry and the island’s largest private landowner. Her peers call Rose fearless, tough, an astute problem-solver. These are traits that Rose didn’t necessarily see in herself when she was growing up in Hilo on Hawaii Island. Rose says her life changed when she switched schools in the seventh grade.


Tell me about your parents, and growing up in Hilo.


My family, both sides born and raised in Hilo, multiple generations. I was, you know, obviously born in Hilo, went to elementary school at Hilo Union, and then at seventh grade, applied and luckily got accepted and attended Kamehameha Schools at that point in time.


And you were a boarder.


A boarder.



In Oahu. From what age?


I was eleven when I got there.


Eleven, moving away from your family.


Oh; for everyone, it’s difficult at that time and that age. And you know, my first year, I think most of us are homesick, and you know, hated it, and I thought my parents sent me to prison.


It must have been hard for them, because they’re very family-oriented people.


Yes, yes; very hard. But they valued education, and this was an opportunity that they felt would enhance me as their daughter. And so I knew that, and made sure we used it to the best of everyone’s advantages. After your first year, I really enjoyed Kamehameha and the friends I that I had there, and the people I’ve met. They were like my sisters in the dorm after six years. And so, it’s all good.


What was life like in Hilo? What part of Hilo?


My parents um, lived on a street called Wailuku Drive, which is above Hilo Hospital. And so, my best stories of Hilo was, I went to Hilo Union, and for some reason back then, if you lived more than two miles away from the school, they’d take you home on the sampan bus.   So, there was a group of us that were able to go home every day on the sampan bus.


What was that like, riding on—


It was very fun.


A ferry, essentially, took you home.


Exactly; exactly. So, it was quite fun, and I see them now and it warms my heart to see those little buses.


Were you quiet, boisterous, athletic, studious? What?


Not athletic. Probably in the middle of it. I don’t think I was super-smart, but back then, believe it or not, they had three classes. There was the A Class, the B Class, and the C Class. I was always in the A Class, but I never thought of myself as being the smartest um, kid in the school, if that makes sense. But I think I did well.


Did you sit in the back of the class? Did you sit in the front row and raise your hand? What was your personality like?


Probably in the middle. You know. You know, just more in the middle, I think. I wasn’t one to sit in the front, and I don’t think I carried the back of the room. Those were for the cool kids.


You were not a cool kid?


I wasn’t a cool kid.


What were you like?


What can I say? Uh, I danced hula. Kind of just the normal everyday kid. I enjoyed hanging around after school with the neighborhood kids. We all played. My mom had a bell, and she’d ring us for dinner. And that’s what you did.


What did you play? What kind of games?


Hide-and-Seek; all kinds of little, you know, kid games.


Your dad was a policeman.




Does that mean you had to be a good girl out there, not embarrass your dad?


I probably felt that more in high school than I did in elementary school. I didn’t quite focus on it at that point in time. I think in high school, I was a little bit more sensitive to his role. At that point, he had been promoted and he was the district commander of the South Kohala-Waimea area. My family had moved to Waimea, so he had a little bit more prominence in the community, and I think we as a family knew that we had to be a little bit more straight and narrow then. And I think it was good, I was at Kamehameha.


Because teenaged.


Teenagers didn’t always have to work out.


Do you remember what the conversation was about the idea that you would be living on another island, if you just got the chance?


Back then, Kamehameha had started in one of its programs called Explorations, so you got to go at the end of your fifth year summer and spend a week there. So, you would then apply in sixth grade. But having come off of Explorations, which was a fabulous experience, and a wonderful program, and I’m glad that Kamehameha still does it ‘til today, I came back like knowing what the school looked like, and met some people that actually became my classmates when I got accepted. So, the conversation, I think, was easier, having had that.


What happened at Kamehameha?


I was on the honor roll, and I did well certainly, but I was not the top of the class, I was not the valedictorian. But I did do enough to get into college, and all of that. I’m the first in my family to go to college on the mainland, and that was a big deal. My dad is a college graduate, but primarily through UH night school, so he did it, you know, as he was working. And we’re proud of that. But for someone from my family to go to the mainland to college was pretty big of a deal. And back then, we didn’t have the resources where you go to see schools and visit, and all of the decision making pretty much occurred by looking at a brochure and a publication from various schools.


So, yet another culture you had to navigate.


Yes, yes, yes, yes. But Kamehameha does a good job of doing that. I went to Willamette University in Oregon. There were nine of us from my Kamehameha class that went there. So, you know, there was at least some friends or familiar faces when you were there, but definitely some navigation involved in the transition.


At Oregon’s Willamette University, Crystal Rose studied hard, with a double major in psychology and sociology. After graduation, Rose found herself heading to law school at the Hastings College of Law in California.


So, I didn’t start with thinking I wanted to go to law school; I ended up there. And I think it was a good decision for me. I spent one study abroad in England, in school in London, and you know, that was another cultural shock experience.   And so, the next was an easy transition, and I went to law school in San Francisco.


You know, I notice you got hired by Carlsmith Ball, a leading Honolulu law firm when you were in your second year of law school?


Yes. Actually, it’s very typical. Between your second and third year of law school, most large firms—Carlsmith was one, Goodsill is another, Cades does it—they hire second year students between your second year of law school and your third year for the summer. And it’s a good opportunity for the students to get an experience in a law firm, and it’s a good opportunity for the law firms to then kinda handpick the ones they would like to see as permanent attorneys in their offices. So, many of us worked in different firms, and I happened to accept a job with Carlsmith, and then at the end of that summer, they offered me a permanent job. So, when I got out of school, I already had a job, and I knew I was coming home, and that part was easy.


That must have been nice.


It was very nice; very nice.


And then, so you were a young woman working at this illustrious law firm.




And you … bagged. You left. Tell me about that. After several years.


Yeah. I’d been there little over three years, and there was a lot of change at Carlsmith during that period of time. But more importantly, the group I worked with had some conversations about going off on their own, and included me in those conversations. So, there was eight of us that left in ’86. I joined Carlsmith in ’82. I was, you know, twenty-eight years old, and it was a big deal.   It was a big deal.


And are you still with the same—well, different partners, but um, same law firm.


Same firm. And of the original eight, there’s three of us left. And on January 3rd, we’ll celebrate our thirtieth anniversary. So, I’m very proud of that. ‘Cause, you know, longevity, and we have some staff that came with us, and they’re still with us from the beginning.


That’s wonderful, especially since I know that there have been a lot of reductions over the years in legal offices.


Correct. So, like I said, it’s been a good ride. You know, I’ve enjoyed it. We have about twenty-something lawyers, and young group, and it’s very dynamic, and that’s good. You know, it’s good for us.


Throughout her legal career, Crystal Rose has calmly tackled complicated and contentious cases that made headlines. She represented former Bishop Estate trustee Oswald Stender in a case that helped bring reform to the mismanaged institution now known as Kamehameha Schools. Rose also led the legal strategy for Central Pacific Bank in its hostile takeover of City Bank back in 2005.


I’ve had the privilege, and actually the opportunity and I look at it as an incredible privilege, of being able to work on cases and issues that have been multi-faceted, complex. It really does make me tick. I love being in the middle of that, and being able to help strategize a solution that will be the best one, ever. Most of the time, you need to be flexible, ‘cause what you think may work may not, and you have to be able to adjust accordingly. A lot of it has to do with people and responses, and reactions, and where you can take opportunities that are given to you that you didn’t realize were going to happen. And so, yes, I really enjoy that type of work.


There’s a lot to what you do. For example, when you were helping Central Pacific Bank take over City Bank, it was an incredibly complex. I mean, there were a lot of numbers.




I mean, everything had to make sense for fiduciaries. But I sense it wasn’t just a job for you. I mean, this was a passion, and it was something you believed in.


In the restructuring of Central Pacific Bank after we got into trouble, it was very serious. And we got to the point, you know, that some people felt we were, you know, on the verge of being taken over. And it got very close. And I felt very, very strongly that I needed to do everything I could, primarily because you know, nine hundred jobs were at risk. And although shareholder value is important, that was lost at a certain point. But what you cannot lose is the business and the opportunity, and the franchise of the bank, and the people.


Why was important for Central Pacific to take over City Bank?


I believe the two banks were of similar size, of similar backgrounds, and being in the kind of Asian, Japanese cultural support, and felt that together they would be better and stronger than if they were separate.


You didn’t major in business.


No; I did not major in business.


Didn’t have experience in business.




So, you emerge as somebody who’s helped to really transform, for example, the banking industry, in the sense of there’s a new bank entity.




How did that happen? How did you get your business acumen?


Obviously, reading, experience, following other businesses. Knowing what you know, and knowing what you don’t know is important, I think. I don’t try to become the financial advisor; I will let somebody explain it to me, and make sure it makes sense, and then I can dive in to the questions I may have. But I think a little bit is just grassroots experience. Been there, done that kinda thing.


And then, you waded into the old Bishop Estate. Where you were once a student at the school.




And then, you’re representing one of the trustees essentially, against the current leadership of the schools.




And the estate.


And how that really uh, transpired is, my office at the time was in Alii Place, and I had the privilege of looking out on the capitol and Iolani Palace, and that beautiful view. And one day, I’m looking out of my window, and there is a march occurring by my alumni from Mauna Ala to Kawaiahao. It was the first march of the controversy. And it saddened me, because I thought it was the first time Hawaiians were marching on Hawaiians. And it didn’t seem right, and there’s got to have been a different way to go about doing this. And so, I called Oz; I knew him. His daughter and I went to Willamette together. And so, I asked him if he needed help, and how I could help. And I didn’t expect to be his lawyer, and then he said, Can I retain you?, and I said, Okay, and off we went. And I then realized that that was a situation where the establishment was, you know, pretty entrenched, and you had to do things, unfortunately, a little bit more controversial than I would have liked. But it all worked out in the end.


You did arrange a settlement in which your client, Mr. Stender, resigned.






Yes; yes.


And permanently, as it turned out.




And how did that help in moving things forward in this very troubled situation?


From the very beginning—and Oz was—one of the reasons he’s such a wonderful man and so good about everything was, from the very beginning, when asked by the press, he very strongly felt he would step down, as long as the other four stepped down. We knew that in order to take on the reformation that needed to be done, it had to be done from the inside. He couldn’t quit and then sue them; that would have been not the best strategy. And I think it made a big difference, ‘cause then it wasn’t about him trying to keep his job, versus standing behind the reforms we were trying to put in place.


You think that was one of the main pivots in that whole controversy?


Yes; yes.


Leading to new trustees.


Trustees; correct, correct. And if he was in there saying, I’m the good guy and the rest of them are bad, and you need to, you know, keep me and not them, I think he would have had some credibility arguments. People would say, You’ve been there that long, why are you okay, and they’re not? You know, they would just ask. So, he eliminated a lot of questions that would ever have to be asked.


Crystal Rose later represented the new slate of Kamehameha Schools trustees in their admission policy giving preference to Native Hawaiian children. She won that case in the Federal courts. More recently, Crystal Rose handled a bitter family dispute over the estate of singer Don Ho, who passed away in 2007.


I was hired by the trustees of the Don Ho estate, and it was challenged by some of the beneficiaries. And for unfortunate reasons, we ended up in arbitration. We tried very hard to resolve it outside of that. My goal has always been to be a problem-solver, because you know, fundamentally, people don’t need lawyers unless they come to you because they have a problem they can’t solve. And our job is to solve it; it’s not always to go to court. In fact, sometimes that means you didn’t do your job, or you know, you couldn’t accomplish something in a different way. So, you try all kinds of other avenues before you end up in the court proceedings. Long story short, we ended up in an arbitration, and they upheld the last amendment of the trust. But it was very contentious, and lots of different issues.


I suppose when you have access to people in these very personal matters, you learn a lot about how people tick.


What I learned from Don Ho’s experience was, he loved everyone, and he told everybody the same thing. So, you know, everyone felt special in his world.


And then, when it comes down to the money …


They all thought it should be them.   If that makes sense. And he wasn’t dishonest; he just was caring about each person in a different way. So, it’s an example of seeing how everyone’s perspective is accurate, but they never saw it all.


When you get to know people in these very emotional circumstances, and I’m talking well beyond the Ho case. But just in general, where you’ve had direct access at a very vulnerable time of their lives, does it help inform you in terms of reading people in the future?


Yeah; I think so. I think so. You know, I always want to expect the best in people, and want to give everyone benefits of the doubt. I think that at the end of the day, how you handle yourself can actually—how people can respond. So, you want to make sure that you do so in a respectful way.


And they’d better have their documents. ‘Cause that really helps you; right?


Yes; yes. Having the documents helps. There’s no question about that.


When she is not litigating cases, Crystal Rose is advising some of Hawaii’s major companies. She serves or has served on the corporate boards of Central Pacific Bank, Hawaiian Airlines, Gentry Companies, and Hawaiian Electric Company. In addition, Crystal Rose gives her time to several nonprofit organizations.


There’s not one road; each one of them had their own kind of story. I served on the Hawaiian Electric Light Company board, which is the subsidiary of HEI. I just got called one day and asked if I was interested in doing it, and that’s how that one happened. The CPB situation came through doing my legal work at CPB. The merger had occurred, but hadn’t been consummated, and they wanted somebody, I believe, that knew what was going on, and had some inside background. And they asked me if I’d step into being on the board. So, that was likewise a very wonderful privilege, and I’m honored to do that ‘til today. I also serve on the board of Hawaiian Airlines, and when it came out of bankruptcy, I believe they were looking for a few local directors. And they were also in the midst of looking for a lawyer to bring on the case against Mesa, and I met with some board members and the CEO about that, and then they asked me to serve on the board. So, that one has had kind of a different role. And then lastly, I serve on the board of Gentry Homes, and Tom was my first client.


Do you sometimes step back and say, I was born in Hilo?




And here I am, hobnobbing and bringing value to major corporations, major institutions, and going up against some very moneyed influential interests.


M-hm. I don’t think about it; I don’t think about it in that way. I obviously love my Hilo upbringing and I love my family, that many of them are still there. My husband I have a place in Waimea with some other people that we go to quite often, so my heart can be on that island quite easily. But I don’t kind of look at it as us and them; I kind of feel like everybody does their part to do what they can to make it better place for Hawaii.


As she was building her legal career, Crystal Rose married contractor Rick Towill, with strong ties to Lanai, where his great-grandfather was the Lanai ranch manager, George Munro. Together, Rick and Crystal raised two sons who are now grown. When her boys were little, Rose says she was able to handle motherhood and her demanding work schedule with a great deal of help from her family.

Through your major cases and your large caseload, and the many meetings and calls, and unexpected things, you had a family; you had children. How did you make it work? Or did it work?


It did work. And you know, many women, or different people will ask me, you know, How did you do it?, quote, unquote. And I will always say there’s not one way to find balance. I don’t think balance is ever found. You strive for it, and you do the best you can. First and foremost, I have a fabulous husband, and he’s always been there for me.


What’s his name?


His name is Rick Towill. And he’s the string to the balloon. And without him, a lot of what has happened couldn’t have happened. So, I want to first say, I think it starts with your relationship. And then, my kids were actually pretty resilient, and that’s good. I think they’re better adults now from that experience. But I also had a lot of help. My parents from the Big Island to Honolulu, and they were there to help me in all the times I needed. My dad’s name is Charley, and he called himself Charley’s Taxi, ‘cause he picked up the kids all the time, and my mother would have fed them and bathed them, and by the time I came home, you know, the heavy lifting was done, so I had the fun part.


Did you all live together?


No, no, no. They had a condo in Honolulu, and I lived on the Windward side. But they’d pick ‘em up, take them to their house, and then I’d show up and take ‘em home. Or sometimes they would take them home, ‘cause it was easier. But it’s not easy, and there were very, very trying times. I can’t say I was always in balance, ‘cause I probably wasn’t. And um, you know, during the Kamehameha controversy, my youngest son was six, and he wrote in his school journal that he only got to see his mom in the morning, because I made sure I took them to school, and then he got to watch her on TV, and then he dreamt about her every night. It was very sweet.


Oh, it must have broken your heart.


Broke my heart; broke my heart. That weekend, I said, Okay, guys, I need to take some time off.   So, it’s hard. But you know, they wouldn’t have it any other way today.


And they found their passion in sailing and boats.


Yes. And actually, it was during the Kamehameha controversy where I needed childcare during spring break, so I signed them up for sailing lessons at Hawaii or Waikiki Yacht Club. I think it’s Hawaii Yacht Club. And you know, they were nine and six, and their passion for sailing took from there, and so, we are very lucky and fortunate that they found it at an early age.


You didn’t have a clue that this would be something special for them?


No. My husband and I get seasick in the bathtub.


That’s amazing. So, they continued with sailing. So, one of your sons is a …


He’s a professional sailor now. And my younger son is a mechanical engineer, working at Navatech, working with their boat designs. So, they’ve both turned out, or luckily have followed their passions, and are doing quite well. So, we’re very, very happy.


In her spare time, Rose says she likes to travel, sew, and cook. In her words, you can’t be Portuguese and not like to cook. Crystal Rose’s success has given her the luxury of being picky; she says she focuses on clients who share her values or touch her heart. Mahalo to Crystal Rose of Kahaluu in Windward Oahu for sharing your story with us. And thank you, for joining us. For PBS Hawaii and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha, hui hou.


For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit


And when your parents, the Roses, named you Crystal, did they think they were getting a dainty flower?


No, actually, my dad will tell you that the story was, back then there was one TV station, and something that will be dear to your heart, it was KGMB. And they had a show called The Millionaire that they gave a million dollars to someone to then, watch their life thereafter. And that my mother wanted to go to the hospital, and the woman who was given the money that year was called Crystal Sands. And he said, That’s what we should name our daughter. My mother wasn’t quite thrilled, but I think my father prevailed.



The Road to Medical Marijuana


Hawai‘i legalized medical marijuana in 2000, but it’s been a long and bumpy road to establishing a dispensary system. The latest delay came on April 13, with the State Health Department saying it needs more time to access criminal histories of finalists for licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana. In the meantime, patients and caregivers have been growing their own cannabis.


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Ride the Tiger


Search the bipolar brain to find out where the biological and chemical breakdowns occur and how we may be able to pre-empt disorders and fix or rewire our brains. Learn if new treatments can lead to advances in other areas of mental illness as well.


Coralie Matayoshi


She’s been a trial attorney, the Executive Director of the Hawaii State Bar Association, and is currently the Regional Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross, Pacific Region. But Coralie Matayoshi still works to live within her means, as she was taught by her parents, and likes nothing better than to curl up with a good book.


Coralie Matayoshi Audio


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A lot of my best red suits have come from the Punahou carnival white elephant. Because people buy these red suits, and they think, Wow, it’s so nice. And then, they think, Mm, it’s kind of, you know, racy. But of course, it’s Red Cross; I need those red suits.


Have any of the people who formerly owned a suit you bought at the thrift store, the carnival, have they approached you and said, Hey, I used have a suit like that?


[CHUCKLE] No, they haven’t; not yet. But a lot of people compliment me on my clothes. And really, if I spend twenty dollars on a dress, that’s a lot.


Coralie Matayoshi’s parents taught their children to live within their means. It’s a lesson that has served Coralie well, and one that her children have also embraced. Coralie Matayoshi, next on Long Story Short.


Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawaii’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.


Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. Attorney Coralie Chun Matayoshi became the chief executive officer of the Hawaii Chapter of the Red Cross in 2003. Although she has spent most of her career as an executive director of nonprofit organizations, she had a very different plan when she was growing up.


I went to Lincoln until fifth grade. And then, in sixth grade, I transferred to Punahou. And one of the reasons was, I was a little nerd with glasses, and you know, kind of meek, and I just didn’t want to get hijacked in the bathroom of Stevenson. [CHUCKLE] Which is what was happening at the time. But I also was a bookworm, and I really wanted to go to Punahou, and so I got in, and I went on scholarship. I come from a family of four girls. And my parents always wanted a boy, especially my father, who was a star basketball player. And so, if any one of us girls had been a boy, our name was already picked out.


What was it?






[CHUCKLE] So, they really wanted a boy. And so, we kind of grew up half Betty Crocker, half jocks. You know, all of us ran track. I had a bruise on my leg from jumping over the hurdles. [CHUCKLE]


So, the best of worlds; athletics and home ec.


Yeah; really. We learned how to bake pies and things, and it was really neat. All of us learned how to sew at an early age. When I was in fourth grade, my mother taught me how to sew, and then you’re on your own. Everything that I wore, I sewed.


Throughout high school?




Going to Punahou?


Yeah. And I even sewed all of my curtains in my house, and all of the kids’ clothes.


What didn’t you make?


You know, I think I made everything. I made bumper pads for cribs. I made blankets, baby blankets for people. I even sewed suits, like this. I wouldn’t do that anymore. [CHUCKLE] But at that time, it was far more economical, because you could get fabric at a reasonable cost. And I like to be creative. I remember going into the dressing room at Liberty House at the time with my sister, and we’d get a dress that we liked, and we’d go in the dressing room and draw it out, and then make our own patterns with newspaper [CHUCKLE] and duplicate that.


Now, were your parents well off?


No, they weren’t.


So, you had to live within your means.


We had to; yes. And that was the biggest lesson, I think, is to live within your means. So, my parents were both the eldest of large Chinese families, and so they didn’t get to go to college. They had to go to work to support their siblings, so that they could go to college. And so, it was really important for them to have a better life for their children.
So, first, they sacrificed for their siblings.




And then, they sacrificed for their children.


Yes. In fact, they waited seven years. And in those days, having your first child at twenty-seven years old, that was old. People used to have them at twenty, right, if you didn’t go to college. They waited, and they saved their money so that we could have a better life.


What did your father and mother do?


My father was an insurance executive. He just worked his way up.


So, sales was the engine.


Uh-huh. And he became a manager of one of the insurance companies. And then, my mom was like a part-time Realtor, part-time homemaker. With four girls going, you know, to different classes and things, you needed somebody like that.


You talked about living within your means. Does that mean you were frugal?


Oh, yes. And I really passed it down to my children, as well. If it’s not on sale, and you don’t have a coupon, then wait. [CHUCKLE]


Did they resent that at any point?


No. It’s really interesting. They never wanted the fancy clothes. To this day, they’re not spenders, and neither was I.


To me, if you live within your means, then you can pursue your passion instead of worrying about money. It’s not how much you make, but how much you spend. You can make millions of dollars, but if you spend it all, then you’re in the same place as if you didn’t make money.


So, that’s how you define living within your means?




You’ve taken so many steps in your life, from the time that your dad wanted a boy, and you ran track and did other sports, and your mom showed you around the kitchen. Was your dad also skilled in the kitchen?


He was the best cook.


Wow; isn’t that amazing?


Yeah. And you know, food really does bring families together. So, he used to cook for so many people, and just make, like, seven-course Chinese meals. You know, with the wok and everything. And I think that’s how we learned how to cook. We were so spoiled, we didn’t have to cook, but I would follow him around and say, Well, so how do you do that? And he’d never have a recipe; right? And I don’t use recipes either. Oh, little of this, little bit of that. Okay; wait. What does that mean? A teaspoon or a tablespoon? You know. So, that’s how I had all these recipes from him. Just orally, he’d just, you know, do it by feel.


As he went along, he would tell you?




Tell us about your life. I know that you were a beauty queen.


[CHUCKLE] A hundred years ago.


[CHUCKLE] You went off the track, and you went onto the stage.


Yeah. And actually, that helped me develop poise. It’s all these little things that you never think you’re gonna use in life. And so, I always tell people, just make best use of all of the things you can learn, ‘cause you never know when those skills are gonna pop up and make you better.


Why did you decide to run for Narcissus Queen, I believe it was, in ’76?


Yes; yes. I actually ran for quite a few contests, and I was in modeling school, and it was just fun. It was a fun thing to do when I was in high school, and we earned extra money and things. And then, I also was a flight attending for Aloha Airlines uh, during part of my college years. And all of that built confidence and poise, and things that I needed later on in life.


But all along, that was not your eventual destination. What was that?


Not at all. Ever since I was in high school, I had the single-minded passion of being a lawyer. I just loved the idea of being on the right side of things. And in those days, you know, Chinese families, you’re either a doctor or a lawyer. And I didn’t like the sight of blood, and I really excelled in writing. Not really speaking; that came a little bit later on. And so, I chose law, and I loved it. When I went to Berkeley, I took constitutional law. I was just so into it.


If we could back up one more time; and that would be to meeting your husband.


It was very interesting. You know, I didn’t really have time to date that much, because I was always working fulltime and going to school fulltime. That didn’t leave me a lot of time.


But you met a lot of people in your job as a flight attendant, and at school.


Yes, I did.


But didn’t date.


Interesting story about meeting my husband. I was in a sorority, and my sorority sister’s boyfriend was roommates with Ron, my my husband. And so, we went to a party, and they said, Oh, he’s graduating. And you know, I went there to meet him and others. And at the time, he had kinda long hair, and he didn’t pay much attention to me. And I thought, Okay, whatever. You know. [CHUCKLE] And then, I got a call a week later, and it was him. And I was a flight attendant for Aloha Airlines, and I was the bottom of the totem pole, so you didn’t know your schedule, you were on reserve. You wouldn’t know if you were gonna fly at all until the day before. And so, when he asked me for this date, it was to the tennis match between Ken Rosewall and Arthur Ashe at HIC. And I said, You know what, I’m sorry, I don’t know my schedule. You can ask somebody else; whatever. But I’ll let you know what my schedule is. So, I’m glad he didn’t ask anybody else, because I got my schedule, and did you know that Aloha Airlines wanted me to go to that tennis match, because I was Narcissus Queen at the time. That exact match. That was my job to go. So, it just was so neat; it was meant to be. So, I went out on that date with my crown and sash in my bag, and whipped it out afterwards, and I got to give leis to Arthur Ashe and Ken Rosewall, and the fifty-thousand-dollar check, I think, to Arthur Ashe.


All while on a date.




And so, what was it about him that got to you?


I just love him so much. And we think alike. We finish each other’s sentences. We just fell in love. It wasn’t love at first sight; I think it was at second sight. And then, we just knew it, we were gonna get married. I mean, we didn’t say it, and it took about five years. I followed him to Berkeley, because he got into graduate school, and I said, Okay. So, we did a little bit long distance for about half a year, and then I applied to Berkeley, and I went there. And I don’t think I would have gone to Berkeley, had it not been for Ron. I would have graduated from UH, which would have been great too. But that experience of going to Berkeley was just wonderful.


When she graduated from law school, Coralie Matayoshi worked as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, her husband Ron went on to earn a doctorate degree. After he finished school, Ron and Coralie moved back to Hawaii with a new family member; they had a baby boy. And Coralie started having second thoughts about a law career.


We had our first child in Washington, D.C., and that really changed things. I just didn’t think that it would change me so profoundly. The priorities, the balance, the stress; it was so hard, because I came back with a two-month-old child. I was supposed to start right away, and I thought I was gonna be able to do that in private practice.


Because in the past, you’d always been able to do anything you wanted to; right?


Yeah. Right. It was just, well, why not? You know. And then, I had to beg the law firm; Can I have one more month? I’m still nursing and things. And they let me. But when I got there, it just changed me so much. We’d drop our son off at the babysitter, and pick him up late at night. The baby had a longer day than I did. You know, I just felt so guilty. And my husband helped so much as well. If I hadn’t had him doing what he did, it would have been impossible. So, it was just my happiness. I just wasn’t happy. I was the only woman attorney, they didn’t have a maternity leave policy. It wasn’t their fault they didn’t; they just didn’t have one before.


When was that?


That was in ’84. So, I graduated in ’81, and in ’84 we came back. And I remember that one of the partners came back from China with gifts for the three associate attorneys. Two of them were men, and then there was me. And I had just came back with the baby; right? So, there was a picture of a baby panda snuggled with his mom. And I thought that was so sweet. I loved it; it was so endearing. But the men, the other attorneys got pictures of these fierce warriors. And we were all litigators. And I thought, Hm, is that how they view me? So, I was a little bit conflicted there. Loved being a parent, loved being a mother, would never trade it. But I can also be a fierce warrior, too.


So, how did you work that out?


It was really difficult. I was just always conflicted, and just felt that I really wanted to explore other avenues. And at that time, I thought, Oh, boy, I’m gonna disappoint my parents. You know, they spent all this money for me to go to law school. That was what I wanted, that was my dream. How could I possibly change so much? So, it was really hard. I kind of decided after my second child was born not to go back to the firm, and to try to explore other things. And so, I worked for Tony Chang at the Legislature, something that I had always wanted to do. I’m a political science major; I just never had time to do it, because I worked fulltime with Aloha Airlines, and went to school fulltime. And so, there was not time for anything else. So, I went there, and I had some time to think. And then, I got tapped on the shoulder. I never look for jobs; they always find me. [CHUCKLE] And there was this struggling nonprofit called The Hawaii Institute for Continuing Legal Education; it was housed in the law school. And nobody told me that it was so struggling; it was really bankrupt. I mean, later on, after they hired me, they said, We were gonna hire you or else we were gonna close it down. And frankly, in the early days, I thought, Should have closed it down. [CHUCKLE] It was just really hard, but it made me struggle and learn all kinds of things, and use my creativity. I got artists from the University to help me just perk up the whole program. And I got Jim Burns to help me revitalize the board and get the people that really cared about what we called HICLE. And we were able to dig ourselves out of the hole. It was a thriving enterprise after two and a half years. So, that was a really hard learning experience. I mean, I’d be at midnight eating cold bento, trying to do my financials, which you don’t learn that in law school. So, I learned a lot.


And so, you had moved from lawyer to executive director?


Yes. It was executive director of a struggling nonprofit.




With nothing planned, and one staff that I hired. I came into an empty office.


You know, to go back just a bit to your corporate trial litigator role. You were struggling with the idea of time and priorities. But what about the actual practice of law? Because I think people get so enamored of, you know, the vital debate, and that concept of justice, and fighting for right. But I mean, in reality, there’s a lot of drudgery.


You know, I think it’s the fighting part of it. When it’s an adversary system, you have to do what’s best for client. And so, you are trying to hide information. I think now, with arbitration and mediation, there’s a little bit more openness and trying to get to the bottom line and what people’s needs are. But when you’re in adversarial case, there’s a lot of angst. And I got that really big dose of it when I was doing really high-powered litigation with the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. We were against these big old law firms from New York, and here we were, you know, young, out of law school, because it’s a government job; right? And we were able to do Grand Jury and Federal cases, and all of that.


But was it the adversarial part of it you didn’t like, or was it having to so position yourself, so as not to see certain information or use it?


I think that the adversarial part of it. And don’t get me wrong; I like to win, and it brought out the worst in me, you know. So, actually, I started ending up doing pro bono adoptions, and things that were more—


To make up for the adversarial go-for-it?


Yes. And when I went to the Bar Association, I really promoted arbitration and mediation. Because that’s something that’s a little less costly and also, it gets to really what the interests of the people are. Because when you go to court, somebody wins, somebody loses.


That’s right; there is no win-win in courts at all.


Right. But also, just the practice of law, you know, was not conducive to family life. You go according to the court’s schedule or the client’s opportunities. So, if your kid has a birthday party, or you’re not feeling good, too bad.


For Coralie Matayoshi, being a good mom had become more important than courtroom combat. And with her newfound passion for nonprofit work, other doors started opening. After spending thirteen years as the executive director of the Hawaii State Bar Association, a new opportunity opened up for her; she was named CEO of the Hawaii State Chapter of the American Red Cross. At the time of this conversation in 2014, she has served there for eleven years.


There’s never a dull moment in the American Red Cross. And people talk about it; it’s so funny, because it’s like, Well, were you here for 9/11, or did you start with Katrina? You know. It’s according to storms. And so, we’re always ready to react. And you know, it’s not only the big ones; it’s the little ones, and a lot of people don’t understand. We are twenty-four/seven, three hundred sixty-five days a year, on all islands, every time, anywhere. Right? And we respond to disasters every four days. In fact, within the two weeks during when hurricanes were coming and going, we had about six fires in Hawaii. And we normally respond every four days. It’s a lot to balance.


It is. And are you directly related in those operations?


I’m glad I don’t get woken up. In fact, nobody could be on call twenty-four/seven, really. I mean, I am when there’s a big one, but we empower our volunteers. We could not do without our volunteers. They’re the ones that work twelve-hour shifts, that sleep with the phone underneath their pillow. And what happens is, the first responders call hotline operators on every island as soon as there’s a fire or other emergency.


So, an unpaid staffer or unpaid person gets the first call?


Yes. And they get the second call, too. Because that phone operator then deploys volunteer disaster action team members. We call them DAT teams, that are on call twenty-four/seven, you know. And they then respond to the fire or the emergency within two hours anyplace, anywhere in Hawaii. And that can be without any of my small staff being involved at all. We want them to do that. If it’s a big one, or if there’s a problem, of course, we’re available. But that’s the only way we can do it. How can we be on call twenty-four/seven?


It’s a giant scope of a mission.


It is.


Especially since you can’t plan it.




In this fiscal year, I can handle, nine major crises. But you can’t do that.


It’s true. It’s a wacky kind of a budgeting. You know, you kinda guess how many you’re gonna have, but if you have too many, then you have to cut back on everything else you do. So, it’s a very difficult thing. And on the larger scale, the American Red Cross, you know, you run into problems when there’s huge things like Katrina, where you need to go and help those people before you’re able to raise the money. And then, you have to borrow from the bank, and then you have debt service.


And raising money after—




–a disaster must be difficult, ‘cause it’s over.


It is. Right.


At least, for the news.


That is true. And you spent the money. And so, that really is hard.


Are you good at asking for money?


I’m good at asking for money, because it’s not for me, and I’m so passionate about it. It’s for the people that we serve. And so, I feel like I’m not really asking for money; I’m giving people an opportunity to learn about our mission, and to give with their hearts. And, you know, people in Hawaii especially, they’re so giving. And there are so many great causes. And it’s just trying to get them to look and see whether our cause matches theirs. So, a lot of people don’t know that we do so much for the military. We have a twenty-four/seven, three hundred sixty-five day a year hotline that responds to emergencies when somebody is deployed in Afghanistan or wherever. If their family is here, they can get word to that family member to come home and say their last goodbye, or whatever is happening at home. And then, we provide casework for that family to be able to deal with that crisis.


And is most of that volunteer-driven?


There’s a lot of volunteers as well. In fact, I have interns from the University of Hawaii doing that. But you have to have, you know, twenty-four/seven access to that. But we run the entire volunteer program at Tripler Army Medical Center. We have hundreds of volunteers. They’re all volunteers. Every one at Tripler is a Red Cross volunteer, including we have about thirty-five four-legged volunteers, therapy dogs. And they come with their handlers, and they have their little Red Cross badge with their little face on it [CHUCKLE], I.D., you know, and they visit all of the soldiers in bed. And it’s just great what we do.


I live in Waialua, so there are chickens visiting nursing homes.


Oh, really? [CHUCKLE]




But animals are so great, because they accept you for what you are. If you don’t have a limb or your face was blown off, they don’t care. So, it’s just a great way to open people up to therapy, and acceptance, and you know, just love and rehab.


Coralie Matayoshi’s work with the Red Cross keeps her busy. But at the time of this conversation in 2014, she was logging in hours at an additional position as a non-paid appointee.


You’re a University of Hawaii regent.


It’s almost a fulltime job, and it’s volunteer. I would never have done that when my kids were small. And so, you do the kinds of things to fit your life. And now that they’re all grown, and one is married, two are lawyers, the other one’s getting her master’s, they’re all great. They’re doing fine. And so, I decided to embark this really difficult thing of being a regent.


Especially now. And as we talk, we have a new UH president, and we have an interim Manoa chancellor. Lots of leadership change.


Yes, there is.


Including among the regents.


Yes; we lost four people because of that disclosure requirement. I wouldn’t do it unless I wanted to make a difference. So, it’s just a time in my life that I can give back.


But can you make a difference in such an unwieldy institution? Is it doable? You know, with things being what they are.


It is very difficult; it is very frustrating. I have made a little bit of difference; we’re chipping away.


And you got caught early on in the Steve Wonder blunder.


Actually, I was there a year. It was like the honeymoon period. Oh, this isn’t so bad. And then, the Stevie Wonder thing hit. So, I was there throughout that whole thing, with MRC Greenwood leaving, and all of that.


And regents were subject to a lot of criticism.




And I remember you being on TV and being asked, Why didn’t you know all this? And you said, Well, I wasn’t at those meetings.


It’s really hard to know everything, you know, like in a huge policy manual. So, I’m the chair of the personnel committee, and I know the policies in that chapter. But I don’t know the policies for the whole University. How could you? You know, with all of the executive policies and the Board of Regents policies, you just can’t. It’s just too amorphous.


You could have ducked out the door when that new policy came in of revealing all of your assets, and as you mentioned, four regents chose to go. You could have ducked out, but you chose to stay, even though it’s difficult without a permanent Manoa chancellor, a new president, and four fewer regents.




And an election going on. So, you don’t have relief any time soon. Four new regents won’t be appointed any time soon.


Right. And we are struggling to maintain quorum. I mean, right before this interview, I was at a budget and planning committee. And I said before I left, If I leave, are we gonna lose quorum? You know. You’re that close to losing quorum to do the business that we have to do.


You know, for people who attended the UH Manoa, as did I, and people at other campuses too, it’s sad to see what’s happened at the UH in terms of gaps in leadership, and some leaders who didn’t do us proud. I’m looking back to Evan Dobelle’s days. Some people just throw up their hands and say, you know, They want us to be proud of having gone there, but we’re not proud of how it runs.


My son went to University of Hawaii, and so did John Waihee. You know, a lot of the political leaders have come from University of Hawaii, as did the doctors.


So, lawyers, doctors, and PhDs.


Right. And now, pharmacy students. So, I think that that will change. So many people coming out of University of Hawaii, and we need to work harder, we need to be more businesslike, we need to treat the institution as a jewel. Because it is the future of Hawaii. It is so important for all of us, and that is why I’m still there. It’ll drive the economic engine for the future, it’s our workforce. We really need the University of Hawaii to do its best.
Coralie Matayoshi discovered her passion for serving the community because of her early decision to put her family first. Mahalo to Coralie Chun Matayoshi of Honolulu for sharing her stories with us. And mahalo to you for joining us. For PBS Hawaii and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. A hui hou.


For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit


Why would you think it so farfetched that you be the head of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Red Cross?


Because I always wanted to be a lawyer; that was my dream, that’s the only thing that I wanted to do. I wanted to do that so badly, and when I got there, it changed. Life changes. And so, you have to be flexible, and you have to be open-minded so that when that door opens, that you can go through. I remember when I first applied to the job of the executive director of the Hawaii State Bar Association, I didn’t get the job. And I was so heartbroken. But you know what? Everything worked out, because a year later, I got the job. And in the interim, I was able to have another child, which I would have given up in order to have that job that I really wanted. So, things work out. You just have to trust in your abilities and trust in the timing.