Nona Beamer


HONOLULU (AP) - Nona Beamer, a noted authority on Hawaiian culture and matriarch of the musical Beamer family, has died. She was 84.

Beamer, a songwriter, performer, hula teacher and author, died peacefully in her sleep early Thursday at her home on Maui, said Mark Nelson, administrator of Aloha Music Camp, which Beamer founded and operated with her son, Keola, a Grammy-nominated slack-key guitar artist.

Nelson said he and Keola Beamer were on tour, the remainder of which has been canceled. Keola Beamer and wife, Moana, have returned to Maui.

Ailing in recent years, Beamer remained active and last performed with her family at the music camp in February.

"In her own very humble, gracious and truly remarkable way, Aunty Nona was not only a pioneer, alii, musician and humanitarian, she truly is the embodiment of aloha," Nelson said.

Winona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha Beamer was born in Honolulu and raised in Napo'opo'o in South Kona on the Big Island. She was of Hawaiian, German, French, Scotch and Swedish ancestry. Her Hawaiian name is an ancestral name that comes from Princess Manono and means precious flower.

Beamer attended Colorado Women's College, Barnard College and Columbia University. In New York, Beamer met Eleanor Roosevelt when she was first lady, and upon returning to Hawaii, took charge of Roosevelt's program to provide emergency food in all school cafeterias.

In 1949, Beamer began teaching Hawaiian culture at the Kamehameha Schools, and remained there for nearly 40 years. She also took over her mother's hula studio and taught hula in Waikiki for 30 years.

Since retiring as a classroom teacher, "Aunty Nona," as she was commonly called, spent her days sharing her extensive knowledge of Hawaiian culture with various groups and at numerous workshops. At Aloha Music Camp, she shared her knowledge of "Hawaiiana," a term she coined in 1948, and her stories of growing up as a Native Hawaiian.

"It wasn't until I was about 70 that I felt I was doing good as a Hawaiian," she said in 2003. "Now I can be proud to be a Hawaiian. It was a long time coming after years of feeling shame."

Survivors include sons Keola, Kapono and Kaliko Beamer-Trapp, daughter Maile Beamer-Loo and a grandson.

At Beamer's request, no services will be held, and her ashes will be scattered privately on the Beamer family ranch at Kamuela on the Big Island.
Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press

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Love the Beamer family. Their contribution to the arts are too many to name. Each has left a beautiful legacy which will remain alive and well in the hearts and souls of many. Thank you Aunty Nona. You beat in the hearts of our beloved islands. Nohonaniho'owehi.

Interesting how today I was thinking of Nona. As a young man of 17 in 1960 I met Nona, Keola and Kapono with my parents visiting Hawaii. My Dad helped as a Red Cross co-ordinator when the wave wiped out most of Hilo downtown. My Mom Patricia Del Pero and Nona hit it off as did my Dad and I. Keola and Kapono taught me how to eat opee's (sp?) right off the rocks! When we returned to California, we hosted Keola and Kapona who came to visit for a spell. Even then as boys they were into music and...

Please accept my sincere condolences and sincere prayers that go out to the surviving family and friends. May the God of comfort continue to bless you and yours especially after such an untimely loss of a very precious life please accept my deepest sympathies. (2 Cor. 1:2, 3).

A gracious and respectable person whose work has done so much to bring so much joy to many of us in these troubled times hard to deal with (2 Tim 3:1). Perhaps more will continue to have positive experiences from a wonderful work that has had an impactful contribution to life and its anxieties.

Aunty Nona was a wonderful soul. Her heart was bigger than the Pacific ocean. She will and is missed by many still. My the Lord bless her family and the music from which comes from them.

For Nona...


Do not weep for me when I no longer dwell among the wonders of the earth; for my larger self is free, and my soul rejoices on the other side of pain...on the other side of darkness.

Do not weep for me, for I am a ray of sunshine that touches your skin, a tropical breeze upon your face, the hush of joy within your heart and the innocence of babes in mothers arms.

I am the hope in a darkened night. And, in your hour...

A hui ho...Hao Ohana, Nalani Hao

May God Bless your Ohana, from ours to yours!

Aloha me ke pumehana, Aloha no...
Lexi & the Thoene/Merrill 'Ohana