Laura and CJ Tollefson
Continued from previous page


They talked story with residents who remembered Ben’s winning smile and gentle personality, they offered a lei at his humble tombstone and they visited the room where he used to live.

Laura still remembered the advice that her great-grandfather would give her when she would write him about the challenges she was facing. “He’d always write back: ‘Don’t Give Up the Ship,’ “ said Laura. She never did. She and CJ hope the 2008 visit was just the first of many more as they hope to help the ‘Ohana continue its mission of honoring everyone who was exiled to Kalaupapa.

Laura still remembered the advice that her great-grandfather would give her when she would write him about the challenges she was facing. “He’d always write back: ‘Don’t Give Up the Ship,’ ” said Laura.

She never did.


Monica Bacon, Milton Hutchison, Moana Hutchison, The family of
Ambrose Hutchison

One of the unsung heroes in the history of Kalaupapa is Ambrose Hutchison, the first patient to serve as superintendent at the settlement where he lived from 1879 to 1932, an unusually long life when there was still no cure for the disease. Ambrose walked alongside Father Damien de Veuster and Jonathan Napela, yet he receives little attention in books or movies about Kalaupapa.
Some of Ambrose’s younger descendents, Monica Bacon, Moana Hutchison and Milton Hutchison, are among the family members who are determined to keep his memory alive. The three cousins paid their first visit to Kalaupapa in June, 2008, where they found an elaborate tombstone built to Ambrose’s wife, Mary, a grave that could possibly be the final resting place of Ambrose, too. An unexpected treat was when they tasted oranges at the home of Cathrine Puahala that came from a tree which was a keiki of the famous orange trees that Ambrose planted at his home in Makanalua, between Kalaupapa and Kalawao.
Monica was struck by the dramatic Kalaupapa landscape of towering cliffs and glittering sea.

“It gives me some solace to know that my great-grand uncle lived in such beautiful surroundings for the greater part of his life,” said Monica.

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The descendents of Ambrose Hutchison gather at the tombstone where they believe he could be buried next to his wife, Mary. From left, Moana Hutchison, Milton Hutchison and Monica Bacon. Photo by Valerie Monson

“I hope that theway I saw and experienced it is in some measure how he saw it. I realize the conditions and circumstances were rough and I could never even imagine being in his shoes, but I hope that he was able to eventually achieve some level of peace and serenity there and that it helped him through his illness.”

The three Hutchison cousins are already planning a return trip to the home of Ambrose.

Photos by Valerie Monson


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