Samuel A. Cooke, a descendant of missionaries and third generation resident of Mānoa, passed away on December 2nd, but his legacy in the valley will live on, thanks to his and his wife Mary’s dedication, vision and generosity. They established the Mānoa Heritage Center in 1996, to preserve and share with future generations the Kūka‘ō‘ō heiau and Kūali‘i, the beautiful Tudor Revival house built by Sam’s grandparents in 1911, and to document the history of Mānoa Valley. The heiau and its adjacent Native Hawaiian gardens are open for public and school tours. Kūali‘i, listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places, will someday be open to the public as a historic house museum.
On November 5, Sam and Mary broke ground for a new Visitor & Education Center to be located on the Diamond Head side of their property. Among other features, the Center will include an outdoor area for student hands-on activities, a hula performance area, and expanded educational programs and events to better serve the community.
Sam and Mary’s contributions to Hawai`i and Mānoa are many and varied, including longtime, dedicated efforts with the Honolulu Museum of Art (founded by Sam’s great-grandmother) and Punahou School (Sam and Mary’s alma mater), as well as numerous other local organizations. Mary was a founder of Mālama Mānoa in 1992.
Sam’s roots were firmly planted in the islands and he was always unassuming, friendly and gracious in the true Hawaiian manner. He loved to share his knowledge of Hawai`i and things Hawaiian and to tell stories about growing up on O’ahu and Molokai. An avid and expert collector of early Hawaiian artwork and books, Sam took great pleasure in them and talking about them.
A celebration of Sam’s life will be held January 16 at 4pm at Central Union Church. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Mānoa Heritage Center, 2859 Mānoa Road, Honolulu HI 96822.