Nelson Doi, who served as lieutenant governor from 1974 to 1978 with Gov. George Ariyoshi, died Saturday at his home in Waimea on Hawaii island, according to Cremation Services of West Hawaii.
He was 93 years old.
Born in Pahoa, Hawaii on New Year’s Day in 1922, Doi graduated from Honokaa High School and was student body president at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, according to an obituary submitted by his family.
He graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School and became a Big Island deputy county attorney.
His career in politics began with his election to the Hawaii State Constitutional Convention in 1950, where he was the youngest delegate at age 28 and was one of five delegates selected to lobby for statehood in 1959.
In 1954, he was part of the historic election that swept Democrats into power and control of the then-Territorial Legislature. Doi won a seat in the Senate, where he served for 14 years and became Senate president.
Doi’s family said he was an advocate for education and agriculture in the Senate and helped draft legislation that produced the first study of Hawaii as a tourist destination.
Doi was appointed in 1969 as Third Circuit Court judge, a position that he held until 1974, when he left the bench to run for lieutenant governor with Ariyoshi.
During his term as lieutenant governor, Doi was an advocate for reform of corrections and prevention of juvenile delinquency. He also sponsored a program of counseling for the children of divorced parents, which attracted national attention, his family said.
After an unsuccessful bid for mayor of Honolulu in 1978, Doi and his wife, Eiko, spent a year in Japan as English teachers. Doi went on to serve on the High Court of the Marshall Islands, then a U.S. territory, in 1985.
He returned to the Big Island and helped initiate the development of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel in South Kohala and lobbied the Legislature for money for the public-private partnership that built the North Hawaii Community Hospital, his family said.
Doi is survived by a son Dr. David T. Doi, of Kamuela; daughter Katherine A. Doi of Palo Alto, Calif.; and four grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers or monetary gifts, donations can be made to the North Hawaii Hospice, “in Memory of Nelson Doi,” 65-1328 Kawaihae Road, Kamuela, HI 96743.
Services are pending.