Election to Life Membership in the Outrigger Canoe Club is the highest honor that can be bestowed. Membership is reserved for members who have made extraordinary contributions to the Club over the lifetime of their membership or have brought great honor and prestige to the Club. Life members are generally at least 80 years old at the time of their nomination.
The designation of Life and Honorary membership is included in the Club’s 1939 Bylaws. The Bylaws set a limit of five Honorary and Life members. Honorary members were described as persons of outstanding achievement in, or service to, the Club or Territory of Hawaii. The 1939 Bylaws limited Honorary memberships to the present holders of such memberships, and stated that in the future Honorary memberships could be given by unanimous vote of the Board of Directors for one year terms that were renewable by the Board. Life members were limited to the current holders of such memberships.
The Bylaws were amended in 1964 and transferred all living Life and Honorary members to Life memberships. Eight members were affected by this action.
The Bylaws relating to Life memberships were last amended in 1971. The Bylaw now reads: Life members shall consist of regular members recommended by the Board of Directors and approved by the membership at a general membership meeting. The Historical Committee established criteria for Life memberships in 1995. The Committee reviews the accomplishments of members each year and recommends those who have made extraordinary contributions to the Board of Directors for consideration.
The Club’s very first Life Member was charter member Allan Herbert who paid $100 in 1908 for the privilege. In 1917, Outrigger founder Alexander Hume Ford tried to resign from the Club. Instead, the Board voted him an Honorary Life Membership. On November 18, 1920 Outrigger’s returning Olympic swimmers, Duke Kahanamoku, W. W. Harris Jr., Dad Center, Helen Moses and Mrs. R. T. Moses (Helen’s mother) were all awarded Honorary Life Memberships.
In February 1926 the Board awarded an Honorary Life Membership to Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Mariechen Wehselau who became the first woman to obtain a full membership in the OCC under the amendments to the constitution admitting women to membership in 1926. Prior to that women had been guest members. In 1928, the Board elected swimmers Olympian Clarence “Buster” Crabbe” and Lily Bowmer May to Honorary Life Membership, along with Mrs. F.M. Swanzy, president of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Outrigger, in recognition of her long friendship and support of the Club.
Other Honorary Life Memberships granted prior to 1939 included past presidents Joseph Rider Farrington and Ernest Tucker Chase, early Board member Henry Asch, Richard L. Burkland and Albert Gay Harris.
All of those elected in 1971 were the last surviving Charter members of the Club. Duke’s Life membership was transferred to his wife Nadine after his death. Some others were selected for being the oldest living member of the Club or holding the longest membership. Beginning in 1979 some members were selected for the outstanding contributions they made to the Club while others held the longest memberships. Since 1995 all Life members have been selected based on the Historical Committee criteria.
Board policies limit the number of Life Memberships to 15 at any one time.
The following have been elected to Honorary/Life Membership prior to 1939, or to Life Membership after 1939:
Helen T. Moses Cassiday (Honorary/Life)
George David “Dad” Center (Honorary/Life)
William “Wild Bill” White Harris (Honorary/Life)
Duke Paoa Kahanamoku (Honorary/Life)
Mrs. R. T. Moses (Honorary/Life)
Clarence “Buster” L. Crabbe (Honorary/Life)
Lillie Bowmer May Forrest Mackenzie (Honorary/Life)
Mrs. F. M. Swanzy (Honorary/Life)