On Sunday, August 9th, Laura Thompson passed away in her Niu Valley home surrounded by family. She was 95 years old.
Laura led a long life as a staunch advocate for Hawai‘i’s natural environment, cultural resources, and animal rights. She is perhaps best known for her involvement with the Polynesian Voyaging Society, which is dedicated to the perpetuation of the art and science of traditional Polynesian voyaging and exploration. Her son, PVS President and Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson, currently leads the organization. In 2017, during the return celebration of the iconic double-hulled canoe, Hōkūle‘a, to Honolulu from its worldwide Mālama Honua voyage, Laura was honored with the Society’s Navigators Award for her years of dedication, leadership and support.
Laura committed much of her time and energy supporting organizations dedicated to animals, nature, and a range of cultural and community interests. She advised and served on the boards of Alu Like, Mālama Maunalua, Maunalua Fishpond Heritage Center, Hawaiian Humane Society, American Humane Society, Latham Foundation, Papa Ola Lōkahi, The Nature Conservancy, Hui Nalu Canoe Club, Hawai‘i Nature Center, The Outdoor Circle, YWCA, Pālama Settlement, The Zoo Hui, and others.
In 2013, Laura provided substantial support to CCH to help save and advocate for the ‘Īlio-holoi- ka-uaua, of Hawaiian Monk Seal. On August 9, 2013, Laura and former CCH President Hannah Kihalani Springer hosted the successful CCH Monk Seal Gala, ‘’He Hawai‘i Au,” in support of the ‘Īlio-holo-i-ka-uaua and CCH. This event led to the production of CCH’s Monk Aloha `Oe to Laura Kalaukapu Low Lucas Thompson He lā‘au ku ho‘okāki he lehua no Ka‘ala. A single lehua tree of Ka‘ala. Expression of admiration for an outstanding person, unequaled in beauty, wisdom, or skill. -‘Olelo No‘eau, Mary Kawena Pukui Seal Educational Poster, the formulation of the Hawaiian Monk Seal working group in response to the intentional killing of monk seals, and a series of PSAs to educate the public about this critically endangered species.
In 2016, Laura played a key role in another of CCH’s successful initiatives, helping to sign on the Polynesian Voyaging Society as an educational group at the first annual Manu O Kū Festival. This festival has since become a well-established and free event put on by CCH, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and Hui Manu O Kū, and engages the public with educational and craft activities, hula, speeches, a costume contest, and bird tours every summer. The Thompson ‘ohana were also active participants at the 2nd annual Manu O Kū Festival in 2017, with Laura’s daughter-in-law Kathy Muneno writing an article on the event in our Kōlea Volume 67.
In 2018, we found ourselves working alongside Laura yet again on the expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. She and Marjorie Ziegler, CCH’s then Executive Director, became leading advocates and organizers for the Monument’s expansion. Laura advised and supported CCH, and so many other organizations, with a meaningful and loving disposition. We felt honored whenever we heard from her. She will be graciously remembered by the CCH and NWF ‘ohana.
Laura is preceded in death by her husband Myron “Pinky” Thompson, and is survived by sons, Myron and Nainoa, daughter Lita, 7 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.
Aloha ‘oe and rest in love, dear Laura.