This oral history interview is a project of the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The legal rights of this material remain with the Outrigger Canoe Club. Anyone wishing to reproduce it or quote at length from it should contact the Historical Committee of the Outrigger Canoe Club. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions that are not factual. A full transcript of the video may be found below.
An interview by Barbara Del Piano
July 28, 2017
BDP: This is Friday, July 28, 2017. I’m Barbara Del Piano (BDP), a member of the Outrigger Canoe Club Historical Committee. One of our projects is to take oral histories of long time members who have made significant contributions to our Club. We’re here in the Board Room, and today it is my pleasure Barbara Stehouwer (BS). Good morning Barbara, and thank you for being here.
BS: Good morning, Barbara.
BDP: Before we get into your service to the Club, I’d like to get some background. Barbara, let’s start with where were you born?
BS: I was born here, Kapiolani Hospital.
BDP: Kapiolani Hospital. Can you tell us a little bit about your family, where they came from and when they came?
BS: Certainly. My mother’s side of the family, I would be fourth generation, they came from Madeira Island, both Grandfather and Grandmother in, gosh, I want to say around 1880, around that time. My father was from Pennsylvania and came during the war and met my mother and that’s that side of the family. I have four daughters that … Well, I married Ken Stehouwer, who is originally from Michigan, and we had four daughters and they’re all members of the Club as are my grandchildren.
BDP: Are they all here living in Hawaii?
BS: The oldest lives in Connecticut, but the other three are in the islands.
BDP: Oh. Where did you go to school?
BS: Well, my grandfather had built Sacred Hearts, so it was mandated that I go there, but my whole neighborhood went to Punahou, and they dropped me at Kaimuki and I wanted to be there. Finally in the middle of the sixth grade, my parents gave in and I went to Punahou. However, I think I may have been having too much fun because when I was 14, I was shipped off to boarding school, and that was Dominican Convent. Then Colorado University, University of Hawaii and that was it.
BDP: Why did you go away to boarding school?
BS: Well, I’m not really sure. It was announced one day that my next door neighbor, who was sort of hanai cousins. Cinnie Belle Ames and I were not going shopping for new clothes, we were going to have uniforms, so off we went.
BDP: Did you enjoy it?
BS: Yes, yes. I think it was a good experience.
BDP: What neighborhood did you grow up in?
BS: I grew up in Kahala back when we had farms where Waialae Kahala is now. Several of my girl friends had horses and would tie them out in the grassland there. It was a real neighborhood.
BDP: Well, what prompted you to join the Outrigger?
BS: Well, I had been here since I was pretty little with my parents and then with neighborhood friends and I just couldn’t wait for my tenth birthday so I could get my own membership. It was pretty much a given that, you know.
BDP: Do you remember who your sponsors were?
BS: No, I really don’t. It was either distant relatives that were allowed to sponsor or perhaps parents in the neighborhood. It seemed that the whole neighborhood would come down here too.
BDP: Do you remember what year it was that you joined?
BS: That I do, 1951.
BDP: 1951, I see. Then did you get involved in water sports?
BS: I did as a kid. I surfed, which I’d been doing anyway and I played some volleyball, I paddled.
BDP: Did you paddle competitively?
BS: Yes, at whatever age I was, that age group.
BDP: That’s good. Did you ever paddle the Molokai race?
BS: No, no.
BDP: Do you remember who your coach was when you were paddling?
BS: I don’t.
BDP: You did play volleyball? But that was just for fun?
BS: I did, but again I was a participant more than anything else.
BDP: How did you feel about the Club moving from Waikiki to Diamond Head?
BS: Well, initially we knew we had to move and of course I was pretty much a teenager through most of that, and I loved being in Waikiki as did my friends because we could walk down to the Waikiki theater or down to the surf club and hang out with friends there. What was it? Linn’s bathing suits, I think we all used to wear.
BDP: Yeah, absolutely.
BS: They were right there too. We were just sort of in the center of things and this seemed far away, but actually it was exciting, my uncle was the contractor for the Club. He owned Pacific Construction at the time, so there were always updates on,”Gee, are we gonna make it in time?” They had 258 days to build the Club. Dredging had already done the site work and had dredged the lagoon area and all. It was … When you think how long it takes to even build a house these days, it was touch and go, but they did, they made it. That was in spite of finding 27 human remains, and each time the Bishop Museum would have to send someone down to properly take care of the bones. Anyway, that was an exciting time also.
BDP: I’m sure it was. When did you first join a committee?
BS: That I don’t remember when I did. I think I joined House, and I’m not sure what year that would have been. Sort of got me involved more in the workings of the Club.
BDP: Any other committees?
BS: Yes, I was on Admissions, which I eventually chaired, Building and Grounds, which I chaired several times, I really enjoyed that, Long Range Planning. I think that’s all I recall anyway.
BDP: How did you happen to run for the Board?
BS: Well, Walter Guild and Karl Heyer IV, who seemed to always be on Nominating, called me, but I worked in Western Oahu, and I worked long hours and there was no way I could have made the Board meetings. I thought, “It’s pointless.” I don’t want to just be on the Board, If I’m gonna be on it, I want to work on the Board, so I declined until finally I got a call after I was no longer working on that side of the island, “Well, okay we’ll give it a shot.”
BDP: What positions did you hold when you were on the Board?
BS: Oh, let’s see. Well, as far as being the Coordinating Director for certain committees, Admissions, Building and Grounds. I was a Secretary, Operations Director, and then finally President.
BDP: How did you feel being only second president, a woman president of the board?
BS: To me it wasn’t much of a gender issue, it was more of a … What would I say … more of a platform for accomplishing the things that I’d been involved in during the previous four years, I was President my fifth year, so the previous four years. We did accomplish a lot as far as the building and that sort of thing.
BDP: Were you at all involved in the negotiations with the Elk’s Club?
BS: Oh yes, definitely. The first few years I … One of my focuses was working on the gym. Reality finally kicked in and the lease was coming up, and so I worked with Alan Lau through most of that on what turned out to be an arbitration, but on the continuance of the lease. Ken Kupchak was our attorney … We had some really good people that worked with us.
BDP: How did the negotiations go? Were you satisfied?
BS: Oh my gosh, we were elated. They were tossing around an evaluation of $50 million. There were set parameters and it all depended on what the valuation would be. The valuation had to be valued by the appraisers as a club site, then everything was set once you got that valuation. Getting there was difficult and they wouldn’t talk to us, so eventually we went to arbitration. We had one of our consultants, Karen Char of Charold and Company. She was phenomenal. She kept saying she knew of something coming up, but it wasn’t closed, she couldn’t use it. How much longer can this go on? Eventually, just right at the final hour, she did call and say,”It’s closed, I can use it.” Then, as a consultant, she is presenting it for the three appraisers that became the arbitration panel and we were very, very lucky to get a valuation of $16,800,000.
BDP: What do you imagine may happen when the lease expires?
BS: Oh well, there’s gonna be very competent board members who will either find us a new home if necessary … I’m hoping that we’ll be able to stay here. The lease does provide that either way with the Elks or with the Outrigger, that they have the first right of refusal. I’m hoping that either on a sale or if someone wants to just get out of the lease. We have … thirty-eight more years? I think it’s 55 that it expires?
BDP: How many years is that?
BS: Thirty-eight, is that 38 years?
BDP: Something like that. Time goes by quickly.
BS: It does, it goes awfully quickly.
BDP: Well, now that your term is finished on the Board, are you still involved in any way?
BS: Not too much, I chaired Nominating. I think that’s one of the most important committees to build a good Board. As far as coming to the Club, is that what you’re asking me? I do … I entertain here, particularly mainland people. I do if I’m asked. I’m doing some focus groups with Anthony, our current president. I’m here almost daily at the crack of … before dawn. Either in the gym or then I … Yoga, in the dining room.
BDP: Are you still working?
BS: No, I’m not.
BDP: What did you do?
BS: I was a real estate broker. I worked for Tom Gentry, so wherever he was developing was … Which a lot of it was in West Oahu.
BDP: I see.
BS: That’s where I was.
BDP: Do you still attend Club social activities?
BS: I attend some, yeah. Not too many.
BDP: What has the Club meant to you over your life?
BS: Well, from the time I was little, it’s friends and family and bringing my children down to meet my friend’s children … be together. It was always … Most of my family members were members. From the time I was little I was always around here and I still am.
BDP: That’s wonderful. How about some extracurricular stories? Would you like to tell us?
BS: I can’t really think of more to say.
BDP: Okay. Well if that’s the case, then we bring the interview to an end. Thank you so much for coming today Barbara. I’m sure that this will be a great asset to our Club’s archives.
BS: Thank you Barbara.