“My parents were born and raised in Korea.They immigrated to Hawai‘i where they met and wed. I have two sisters and two brothers; I am the youngest in the family.
Typical of the many immigrants who came to Hawai‘i in the late 1800s and early 1900s, my father worked for the sugar plantation and we had a typical plantation worker lifestyle growing up.This meant a life of hard work and hardship.
Not unlike other immigrants, my parents’ life goal was to establish the values of work and education in their children, and to sacrifice for their children’s future.
I am an Army veteran, as are my two brothers.This was a time when most American boys did serve. After serving in the military as a medic, I was able to attend and graduate from Southern Oregon University with BS in Education and an MS in Economics thanks to the G.I. Bill. After graduation, I returned to Hawai‘i Island and have lived here ever since.
I consider this to be the most beautiful place on earth.”
Experience & Qualifications
- Born in Ola‘a, Hawai‘i (now known as Kea’au)
- Attended Ola’a School, graduated from Hilo HIgh School
- Served in the U.S. Army as a medic during the Vietnam War
- Attended UH Hilo
- Graduated Southern Oregon State University, Bachelor of Science, Education & Sociology & Master of Science, Economics
- Honoka‘a Intermediate and High School
- Hilo High School
- Hawai’i Community College
- Honoka‘a High School, football and basketball
- Hilo High School, football and girls’ softball
- Waiakea High School, football and basketball
- Pop Warner football, Keaukaha and Waiakea
County of Hawai‘i
- Law Enforcement Assistance Agency (LEAA) Director, 1972-1976
- Civil Defense Administrator, 1976-2000
- Mayor, two terms, 2000-2008
- Operated Kea’au Kim Chee with mother for 25+ years
- Married to Roberta (Bobbie) Keefe for 40+ years
- Two sons, Garrett (Hilo) and Mark (Oregon)
- Two beautiful grandchildren: Garrett has a daughter and Mark has a son
- Served as an international advisor on natural disaster response systems: Indonesia, Thailand, Germany, Honduras; selected by National Academy of Sciences to review the volcanic hazards program of the U.S. Geological Survey
- Selected by UNESCO and UNDRO to be a contributor in the development of an emergency management handbook for volcanic events distributed by United Nations (Paris; Geneva)