Joined OCC: 1930
Elected to Winged “O”: October 4, 2008
Thad Wayne Ekstrand was born on November 20, 1920 in Honolulu and grew up in McCully. At the age of 10 Duke Kahanamoku sponsored him for membership ino the Outrigger Canoe Club. He graduated from McKinley High School but didn’t play sports until he joined the Outrigger. As a youth he enjoyed surfing, canoe surfing, volleyball and canoe racing.
Thad vividly recalls trying to play volleyball on the Club sand courts and being shooed off to the baby courts by the older members. He also remembers the Beach Boys not letting them surf until they proved they could swim and handle a board (heavy redwood planks) safely. Thad was famously known amonst his peers for his love of surfing, braving wartime conditions by crossing through the barbed wire on the beach to reach the waves.
In 1943 when the barbed wire had been removed from Waikiki Beach, canoe racing was reintroduced with the Walter J. Macfarlane Regatta on the 4th of July. Thad paddled on the Senior Men’s 6 crew with fellow Winged “O”s Tom Arnott and Duke Kahanamoku, to set a winning tradition for the Outrigger in this event. They got to sip champagne provided by Kamokila Campbell, Walter Macfarlane’s mother, out of the silver trophy donated by the Matson Navigation Company for the race. Thad got his name on the trophy again in 1945 and 1950.
In addition to his commitments in the canoe, Thad was a regular on the sand volleyball courts playing with some of the greats. He was an avid player and rarely missed an opportunity for competitive tournament play. He was on the Club’s 1951 6-man Open Tournament Championship team, played doubles and noon league volleyball. In 1969 he won the 75+ Tournament with Tom “Daddy” Haine.
In the 1970s he got interested in running and was awarded mileage awards in 1974 (1,000 miles), 1976 (3,000 miles), and 1978 (4,000 miles). He ran the Honolulu Marathon in 1975 in a time of 4:25:10. After he finished running, he helped runners by working at the Club’s Aid Station on Kahala Avenue.
In 1968 he joined the OCC Trap and Skeet Club and often won his events.
Like many watermen, the shores of Waikiki were his playground and he could often be found surfing and swimming in front of the Club. Thad and his former teammate Tommy Arnott continued to support the Club’s canoe racing efforts dedicating their time as escorts and coaches for many of Outrigger’s Molokai crews crossing the Ka`iwi Channel to Waikiki.
In addition to this athletic contributions, Thad served the Club in a multifaceted capacity. His experiences as a committee member and on the Board of Directors range from the years of 1966 to 1992 and include service on Admissions and Membership, Nominating, House, Athletics, Public Relations, Entertainment, Running, Canoe Racing, Historical and various other subcommittees.
Thad’s reputation among his fellow Board of Directors members was impeccable, earning him election to the Outrigger Canoe Club President in 1971.
Thad was also responsible for starting a reunion of the Bourbon League. The Bourbon Leaguers were non-resident OCC members who served on the crews of Pan American World Airways from the years prior to World War II to the time the Club moved to its site at Diamond Head. The Bourbon Leaguers provided unavailable items during those war years such as volleyballs and volleyball nets and liquor. The first reunion was held in 1978, and they continued every two years. Most of the original Bourbon Leaguers have passed away, but the reunions have been continued by their children.
Thad passed away on June 4, 2010.