Former Honolulu sportscaster John N.R. Noland was the all-around nice guy with a sunny disposition, according to friends and colleagues.
“He was so full of life. He can make the darkest day the brightest day,” said longtime friend Kerry Lam, who attended Maryknoll School with Noland.
Noland died June 15 at The Queen’s Medical Center, where he had been on life support following an attack June 9 on Maunakea Street in Chinatown. He was 60 years old.
An Oahu grand jury has indicted Mark A. Coleman on a manslaughter charge in connection with Noland’s death. Coleman’s arraignment is scheduled for Monday at Circuit Court. He remains in custody at the Oahu Community Correctional Center in lieu of $300,000 bail.
Born on Oahu, Noland’s passion for sports took root in his youth.
In his senior year at Maryknoll School, Noland was part of the varsity basketball team’s “Freeway Five,” which also included Lam, and won the first Interscholastic League of Honolulu’s Division I championship for the school in 1976 under coach Anthony “Tony” Sellitto.
Over the years, he maintained friendships with his teammates as well as his coach. “The guys on his team were all his friends. I understand why. He was a nice guy,” Sellitto said.
In addition to playing forward and guard in basketball, Noland was a linebacker for Pac-Five’s football team after Sellitto encouraged his basketball players to get involved in either volleyball or football so they could get used to competition. “He was extremely enthusiastic,” Sellitto said of Noland.
In recent years, Sellitto and Noland would meet near Sellitto’s residence in Waikiki in the mornings and go walking for exercise. They would talk about various things, primarily sports. “He was always knowledgeable about sports.”
A day before he died, they had watched the Golden State Warriors defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. He referred to Noland as a good friend.
Noland graduated from San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in communications.
In the 1980s, he worked as a sports reporter at KHON2. He left the television station in 1989 and later hosted his own sports show, Sports Rap, on KFVE. He also was part of a television broadcast team with Bob Hogue, former KHON2 sportscaster, in the early 2000s. The pair covered Hawaii Pacific University’s basketball and volleyball games that aired on OC16.
Noland also worked at radio stations KUMU-AM 1500, KHNR, KGU and K108.
According to Hogue, Noland followed in the footsteps of his late mother, Teddi Medina, Hawaii’s first federally licensed female disc jockey. She worked at KIKI and was editor of the Filipino Herald of Hawaii and San Francisco Banner. “There is no doubt that his mother sparked his interest in the field of broadcast and entertainment,” said Hogue, commissioner of the PacWest Conference.
Noland’s friends and colleagues also recalled how Noland spoke fondly of his daughter, Alana Noland. “He was always talking about her,” Sellitto said.
Noland’s best friend Ron Panzo, who had known Noland since they were 8 years old and lived a block apart near Maryknoll School, said, “He had the biggest heart.” Panzo, who also played football with Noland at Mary- knoll, said Noland always rooted for the underdog.
Friends and colleagues said Noland will be best remembered for his positivity. Sellitto said, “He was always happy.”
Noland was thoughtful and remembered everyone’s name, Panzo said, adding that he had a gift of connecting with people.
Hogue, who had known Noland for about 30 years, said he was the consummate nice guy. He was a good friend to a lot of people, he said.
Noland is survived by his daughter, Alana Noland; sisters Patricia Chung, Kathleen Noland and Mary Ann Bratschi; and many nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life will be held Saturday at the Waikiki Yacht Club from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Noland’s ashes will be scattered in waters fronting the Hilton Hawaiian Village during a noon paddle-out.