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 interview may be found below the video.
An Interview by Barbara Del Piano
June 2, 2017
BDP: This is Friday, June 2nd, 2017, and I’m Barbara Del Piano (BDP), a member of the Outrigger Canoe Club’s Historical Committee. One of our important projects is to interview long time members who have made significant contributions to the Club. We’re here in the Board Room today, and it is my pleasure to interview Karl Heyer IV (H IV). Good morning, Karl.
KH IV: Good morning.
BDP: It’s so nice to meet you.
KH IV: Morning, Barbara.
BDP: Before we get down to your service to the Club, I’d like to get some background. Can you tell us where you were born?
KH IV: I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in January 10th, 1958.
BDP: How about your parents, when did they come here?
KH IV: I believe my dad (Karl Heyer III) was probably about four years old. My grandparents had met here in Honolulu. They got married on the mainland, and he was born in, I believe, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and then they moved back to Honolulu, and I believe actually Kahului, Maui. My mother (Arden Moore) was born in California and she was out here with her mother and sister attending UH, and she met my father there.
BDP: Oh, how interesting. In what neighborhood did you grow up?
KH IV: Around Oahu, but primarily Niu Valley, then Nuuanu and Pacific Heights.
BDP: Where did you go to school?
KH IV: I attended Punahou School and I graduated from the University of Southern California, USC, for my undergraduate business degree. I have a Master’s in Business Administration from Chaminade.
BDP: Did your parents or any relatives belong to the Outrigger?
KH IV: My father’s a long time member and my mother’s a member.
BDP: When and why did you join?
KH IV: Sometime in the … around … I don’t even know, but around 1968, I’d guess. Around my 10th birthday, I became a member, so somewhere in there. I’ve been … I grew up pretty much down here. Did the summer programs and those things and got my membership when I was around 10 years old.
BDP: Did you get into sports right away?
KH IV: I started paddling. They also used to have a thing called the summer program here, which was about six weeks long in the summer, maybe eight weeks long, where you come down every day and they break you into groups based on age and they teach you to paddle, surf, play volleyball, the park. One day a week, we’d go on excursions around the island. It was a pretty good program. I think they had it for a couple of summers in a row. We did that and it was good exposure to getting younger kids in the water, so before canoe racing even started or the organized athletics, there was like an entry level summer camp at the Outrigger. You got dropped off in the morning. had lunch and got picked up at three o’clock and we did all the activities.
BDP: Who was your instructor?
KH IV: Dave Pierson. He ran it and the reason I’m smiling is a lot of the, let’s say, the teenagers ended up getting their summer job being a summer program instructor. In fact, I even did that a couple of summers when I was older and they still had it. We ran the summer program or we were instructors. It was a fun summer job and you got to learn how to do things. The other great part about it is we went on a weekly excursion. The flumes were still up over in Central Oahu. I remember we went up there and went fluming. I don’t even know how to get there now. But we went back in the mountains when they brought the water from Waiahole and Waikane Valley across Central Oahu. We went to Waimea Bay in the summer time. We’d go to Sandy Beach once a week and Makapuu and those places to learn to body surf. It was great exposure as a kid. It basically was a good introduction into the water sports.
BDP: Did you paddle on any crews?
KH IV: I’ve been paddling since I was 10 or 11 years old.
KH IV: I’ve paddled for the Outrigger since then. Through all the age groups and the upper division men and into the master’s division. I’m now paddling in the … I have one more year paddling 55 and over, so we’re doing that this summer. Next year I’ll be eligible for the 60s.
BDP: Have you done the Molokai Race?
KH IV: Done Molokai many times. I paddled my first Molokai for Outrigger in 1975. I was a senior in high school and I paddled my last Molokai for Outrigger in 2016.
BDP: You’re not going to do it anymore?
KH IV: Oh. I’ll do some more. I just didn’t … we haven’t … another one come up. I’m just … Interesting. ’75 to ’16, what is that? That’s 25 plus 16, so you’re talking 41 years.
BDP: Did you do any coaching?
KH IV: I’ve done quite a bit of coaching. I’ve coached, most recently, with my daughter’s, the girls 13s and 14s. Over the years I’ve done master’s men, novice women, novice men. I don’t know how many years I’ve done it, but-
BDP: Are you still doing it?
KH IV: I’m not coaching right now, just paddling.
BDP: I see.
KH IV: But I’ve been doing it. I was a … You asked a committee question. I served on the Canoe Racing Committee as the vice-chair in 1975, so it was the first committee I served on.
BDP: What other committees did you serve on?
KH IV: Athletically, there’s a fun story. I was chairman of the Paddleboard Committee and one day Cline Mann came to me and he calls me K4. “K4, you’re going to be chairman of the Paddleboard Committee.” I said, “Cline, I don’t want to be chairman of the Paddleboard Committee.” He said, “You have no choice. I’ve signed you up.” The responsibilities included putting on the three paddleboard races that Outrigger hosted over the summer. To get even with Cline, I, a committee of one, decided that we were going to name the race after him. In fact, we got that trophy up there with the paddle board. Sean McKibbin made that with the guy lying on top. It’s a wave. We had that produced and at the end, we broke it out and I’m standing there next to Cline. I go, “Cline, from this day forward, this race is going to be known as the Cline Mann Memorial Race.” I was very proud of myself and he leaned over and goes, “K4, if it’s a memorial, I’m supposed to be dead.” I go, “Oh. I didn’t know that, Cliner. Okay.” But that’s how that race started.
BDP: Oh, gosh. Did you get into any other committees that were not related to sports?
KH IV: I served on Admissions and Membership, Long Range Planning, chaired the Nominating Committee several times, in addition to being on the Board for six years.
BDP: I see. Did you … you were President of the Club?
KH IV: In 2000.
BDP: In 2000. That’s quite an accomplishment. In addition to all that, you also are a member of the Winged “O”?
KH IV: Yes.
BDP: The Winged “O”, of course, is a club within the Club where only outstanding athletes are selected to join.
KH IV: I would describe it more as people that contribute to athletics. You don’t need to be an athlete to be awarded the Winged “O”. Many of the people who have Winged “O”s have been supporters, helped the program in various roles, but it’s really a time commitment to athletics at the Outrigger.
BDP: How did you feel when you were asked to join the Winged “O”?
KH IV: I was honored. It’s a select group and it was an honor to be selected.
BDP: What were some of the special things that happened when you were on committees or when you were President?
KH IV: There’s some fun ones and some serious ones. Serious side, we initiated the OC2C Adhoc committee. At the time, when I was on the Board, I asked, “What’s the plan?” He goes, “What do you mean, what’s the plan? Every time the Board comes down, we have a different plan.” I started looking and there was no plan. We would be renovating the Club on an as needed basis rather than looking at the Club as a total redevelopment or remodeling plan and trying to layer and structure that at the Outrigger.
We started an Adhoc to really look at the master plan of the Club and how we were going to layer the renovations to make sure that we weren’t, for example, renovating the kitchen one year, so we had a dining room with no place to cook. The next year, we’d renovate the dining area, but we had a kitchen that could cook but no where to eat it. To make sure that we were layering all those properly. In addition, we started the Adhoc to look at the lease fee renegotiation that was coming up. There were always a lot of questions of … no one really knew the definitive answer to a lot of the questions. . . so we initiated the planning for the rent renegotiation.
Over six years on the board, you have all kinds of fun things that come and go, but, like I say, on the humorous side, we got Mochi Crunch at the bar. Until then, it was only peanuts. They said it couldn’t be done, but we were able to find a wholesale supplier. Since then, we’ve had Mochi Crunch.
BDP: Were you involved at all in the negotiations with the Elks Club?
KH IV: No, I was off the Board by the time that transpired.
BDP: How did you feel about the outcome?
KH IV: I thought it was very favorable to the Outrigger. The arbitrators really did … put what I thought were the clear terms of the lease and understanding how to value the land for the renegotiation. It was not highest and best use. It was as a Club use. That was the intent of the original lease and I think that came through with the valuation.
BDP: That’s very interesting. When you were President, the negotiation had not yet taken place.
KH IV: Right.
BDP: You were spared that. I assume that you’re married.
KH IV: I’m divorced.
BDP: Oh. You have children?
KH IV: I have three children.
BDP: Are they members of the Outrigger?
KH IV: All three of my children are members of the Outrigger (Karl Heyer V, Maile and Kelley).
BDP: Are they involved in sports here?
KH IV: Two of them live on the mainland now. All three have paddled. One is graduating from high school tomorrow, so we’ll see how our summer plays out and whether she’ll have time to participate. They all grew up paddling here.
BDP: I see. Are you still employed?
KH IV: Yep. I’m still working. I work for a company I own called Heyer and Associates.
BDP: Oh. Do you have any outside hobbies?
KH IV: Well. Other than the obvious of surfing and paddling, I enjoy fishing. I like to work on wood. I don’t get to do it a lot. One of the nice things is that I walk around here, and though I didn’t get the opportunity to make things, I donated a lot of the koa that’s currently used in the trophies around here.
BDP: Oh, really.
KH IV: Let’s see. If you look at the trophy case, the nice double hull canoe that Domie Gose made with the curly wood, the Arizona trophy, the cribbage tournament trophy, the other Cline Mann trophy that’s kind of a monument. There’s quite a bit.
BDP: Where do you get the Koa?
KH IV: I bought Koa, acquired it about 15, 20 years ago. I bought … A fellow member, Brad Wagenaar, insured a logger on the big island and we went up there and he allowed us to select wood and put it on the side and buy some wood. We got some very nice wood and I’ve kept it over the years and made furniture and, as the Club needed koa for trophies and things like that, I’ve donated it. Last few years, I donated the koa for the cribbage boards for the cribbage tournament. Little things here and there.
BDP: Oh. That’s wonderful. Do you spend a lot of time at the Club now?
KH IV: Not as much as I used to. I used to spend a lot of time. Last year’s the first time they ever charged my mini charge. I thought I had emeritus status. Anyway. I have to make sure I come down and spend it. During the summer, if I’m paddling, I do get down here.
BDP: How do you feel the Outrigger has affected your life?
KH IV: Oh. In many ways. It’s given me a water athletic background. It’s given a home base on the ocean in Hawaii. Lifelong friends and camaraderie. An education. An opportunity to be responsible for things at an early age. One of the things I like to tell new members, especially the kids, is that this is the first time in their life that they really are on a par with an adult. Except for the bar, they can sign, they can use the Club. They have the same privileges and with that comes responsibility at a young age. You find that it’s one of the first times you have the freedom and also the responsibility that comes with something like a membership here.
BDP: Do you think that the Club is fulfilling its original mission?
KH IV: I do. If we continue to field sports teams, surfing, volleyball, paddling, seem to be there. People are involved. Like any club or organization, there’ll be ebbs and flows depending on the involvement of the people. Outrigger’s concrete walls and beach, but it’s the people that are there. The more people that are involved in doing things, the more active the club will be. With that comes some highs and lows, if you will. There’s also the great aspect. The Outrigger’s, the solitudes, the intergenerational interaction where we can come down, you can see people of all different ages. That is what really makes the Outrigger the Outrigger. People donating their time. The committees are all volunteer. You’re a volunteer. Everything we’ve done is a volunteer basis.
BDP: What do you think is going to happen in 35 years or so when the lease expires?
KH IV: I think we should put it on the Historical Register, so it can’t ever be removed.
BDP: That’s a wonderful gesture.
KH IV: Make it a National Monument. No one can touch it.
BDP: We could get kicked out.
KH IV: We can.
BDP: The Elks could take it over.
KH IV: You never know. Broader question is is Oahu, Honolulu, and Waikiki better with or without the Outrigger Club? I would say with it. Therefore, do what it takes to keep it here.
BDP: Do you have any more funny stories or …
KH IV: No, but I’m sure when I’m driving home, I’ll come up with a dozen. Over the years, it’s just … it’s lots of little things and just ones where you got to be there. Towing a canoe back late at night from Waianae and the trailer comes off and the canoe trailer passes the truck and just goes off into a cane field. There’s tons of stories like that. It just … Okay, what’s going to happen next? Over a period of time. I think that the way that the Outrigger’s set up and as long as we keep feeding and bringing in new members and people want to volunteer and participate here, the Club will be a healthy ongoing venture.
KH IV: The key is the people participating.
BDP: I wonder if we’re ready to bring this to a close or if you have any more stories?
KH IV: I don’t know. If I think of some, I guess, or we do.
KH IV: But, there’s just … like I said.
BDP: Thank you so much, Karl.
KH IV: Thank you for inviting me down here.
BDP: It’s been a pleasure and so interesting. Thank you.
KH IV: You’re welcome.