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State tax chief knew laws in and out

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When it came to taxes, state lawmakers knew exactly where to go: to George Freitas Sr.

The former state tax director worked for the department for 45 years, and former Gov. George Ariyoshi said Freitas could recite the tax laws verbatim.

Freitas, who retired as tax director from the Ariyoshi administration, died Nov. 15 at his Manoa home. He was 90.

Freitas was born and raised in the Punchbowl area. After graduating from Saint Louis School in 1939, he worked in an apprentice program with the Tax Department. Meanwhile, he studied accounting at the University of Hawaii.

His son, George Jr., recalled Freitas spending hours after dinner with his family, reviewing the state’s tax rules, regulations and laws. "He was enthusiastic about his job," his son said. "He was considered the expert historian of taxes in the state."

He served as state tax director from 1978 until he retired in 1984. "He was one of the best tax directors," Ariyoshi said. "He ran a very good department. He was very valuable to the Legislature and would advise them on tax matters."

After he left office, Ariyoshi remained in touch with Freitas. "I considered him a good friend," he said. "He had a great deal of feeling and compassion."

Freitas continued to help friends and neighbors with taxes after he retired from the Tax Department. "Come April, our driveway literally looked like a drive-in restaurant. Friends would line up," his son said.

Freitas always was there to help others with tasks, big or small. "He was always willing to give of himself," his son said.

Freitas was a lifelong member of the Waikiki Elks Lodge and a leader of the Hawaii Tax Association. He also served as an honorary member of the Hawaii Tax Institute and was an active member of Saint Pius X Catholic Church in Manoa.

Freitas is also survived by his wife, Dorothy; daughter Doreen Holton; sister Bernice Almeida; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Diamond Head Cemetery. Casual attire. No flowers.

 

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