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Hawaii News

The ‘CJ’ is saluted at school

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Family and friends paid their respects as William S. Richardson lay in state yesterday at the moot courtroom at the UH law school. From left, Mike Yasutake and his wife, Mahealani Richardson, who is William Richardson's niece, and Patricia Lee, former UH Board of Regents chairwoman, get a hug from UH-Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw.
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In a family photo from the early '60s, are William Richardson, left; children Corinne, Bill and Barbara; and his wife, Amy Ching Richardson.
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This picture was dated 1946, when William S. Richardson, center, was in the Army with his brothers.


A photograph from the 1940s on Page A23 on Friday, July 9 showed brothers Robert Richardson, William S. Richardson and Arlon Richardson in their military uniforms. A caption said the photo was of William Richardson and his Army buddies.


The body of William Shaw Richardson lay in repose yesterday in the center of the moot courtroom at the University of Hawaii law school that bears his name.

Throughout the day, lawyers, judges and everyday people paraded past the casket of the former Hawaii Supreme Court chief justice to honor the man known as "CJ."

Richardson, 90, died at home June 21 after a legal and political career that included positions as Hawaii Democratic Party chairman, lieutenant governor under John Burns, chief justice and Bishop Estate trustee.

But at UH’s William S. Richardson School of Law yesterday, mourners remembered Richardson for a sharp legal mind expressed through soft-spoken compassion.

"He was such a force, but he was so quiet you never knew what a force he was," said Catherine Chang, who was in the law school’s first class of students when it school opened in 1973 and who later clerked for Richardson and helped him draft papers during the 1978 state Constitutional Convention. "He would always say, ‘You know what the right thing to do is,’ and then he’d smile that smile. I’m going to miss his gentleness."

Gov. Linda Lingle ordered the Hawaii flag to fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset today in Richardson’s honor. A memorial service will be held this morning at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

Community members, many of whom have never stepped foot inside a law classroom or met a Supreme Court justice, showed up yesterday to honor Richardson.

Fiola Lara of Kakaako said she had bumped into Richardson decades ago as he read a newspaper outside of the downtown post office and mistook him for former Bishop Estate trustee Richard "Dickie" Wong.

Lara was embarrassed when Richardson corrected her as he tapped her on the arm with his newspaper. Richardson’s easygoing way and sense of humor in that brief encounter made Lara a lifelong fan of the chief justice.


A memorial service for William S. Richardson will begin at 11:30 a.m. today at St. Andrew’s Cathedral. Visitation will take place from 8 to 11 a.m. The service will be followed by private burial. Due to limited seating, the service will be shown live on closed-circuit television in Tenney Theatre next to the church.

» Parking: Metered parking on Queen Emma Square, Queen Emma Street and side streets around the church. The Central Intermediate School parking lot and Alii Place parking structure at Alakea and Beretania streets are other options.
» Photography: Not allowed, except for news media.
» Donations: In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the William S. Richardson—Realizing the Dream Fund at the University of Hawaii law school or at www.uhf.hawaii.edu/wsr-realizingthedream.

So she showed up with a single red rose yesterday to place in Richardson’s honor at the law school that he loved so much.

"He was such a great human being," Lara said. "Anyone who loves Hawaii, I love that person, too."

Richardson helped define and protect native Hawaiian rights and land use law, said UH associate law professor Mark Levin.

"The role of the courts and the rights of the indigenous people were protected forever," Levin said.

Law professor Williamson Chang said Richardson "represented a Hawaiian point of view that believed in a reconciliation with the United States. You could be American and Hawaiian at the same time."

Richardson’s biggest contribution to Hawaii arguably was his early support for the creation of a UH law school, Chang said.

"He was really remarkable in his foresight in establishing a law school," Chang said. "His greatest gift was this belief in the younger generations."

Richardson was remembered as someone who liked to crack open a light beer at gatherings of law school students, where he enjoyed hearing about their experiences in school. In class presentations or in his second-floor office, Richardson was always willing to offer career advice, explanations of landmark decisions or stories from his own days as a student.

"He’d just sit and talk to you," said Sonny Ganaden, a 2006 graduate who took a seminar by Richardson. "He had more stamina than all of us."

Liann Ebisugawa, a 2003 graduate of the law school, remembered Richardson asking lots of questions of students like her.

"He was always interested in us," she said. "That was really special."

To lawyer Duke Oishi, who also graduated from the law school in 2003, Richardson "was just CJ. … He was so much fun."


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