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Pacific Ponderings

Uncle Joe

Tomorrow is Joseph Ah Quin’s funeral. I shall miss Uncle Joe. His beautiful voice welcomed Susan and me to Laie on the day I was announced as the new BYU–Hawaii president. I’d love to hear him sing just once more.

I first met Uncle Joe along with several other local Kupuna (community elders) in a private meeting immediately after the devotional. Meeting these beloved Kupuna was truly the highlight of our day. The Kupuna welcomed us to the community and to our new assignment. Susan and I introduced ourselves to them and they introduced themselves to us.

And Uncle Joe sang! If memory serves, he sang “Behold Laie!” He also often sang “Aloha Oe” I asked him to sing both these songs for a “Ohana Home Evening” with general Church and local leaders on the night before my inauguration. What a thrilling voice! And what a spirit of aloha and of love for Laie rang through Uncle Joe’s rich voice.

Now that beautiful voice is stilled, at least here on earth. For surely Uncle Joe has now joined the choirs of Heaven. And I imagine that he makes their music even more Heavenly.

Joseph Ah Quinn achieved notoriety in the Church as Moki, the dour, shaggy-haired father of Mahana in the film “Johnny Lingo” who demeans his daughter in the famous line: “Mahana, you ugly!” Mahana eventually becomes Johnny Lingo’s beautiful eight-cow wife. For me, however, Uncle Joe’s most memorable role is as a beloved Kupuna who helped all who heard him sing feel the spirit of aloha and glimpse the loveliness and beauty of Laie.

I hope to hear him sing again in Heaven. Aloha oe, Uncle Joe.

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