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Maui News columnist got his start at old UPI

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    Ron Youngblood:

    Born in Illinois, the veteran reporter fell in love with Maui and wrote stories about his adopted home during a long career with the Maui News

The Dancer will not ride again on Maui.

Ron Youngblood, the former wire service reporter and Honolulu journalist who went on to become a Maui institution through his writing — a weekly newspaper column, people profiles and theater reviews — died Monday at 73.

For the past 27 years in the pages of the Maui News, Youngblood captured the beauty and essence of the island and its people in his “Maui Nei” column, often told through the mischief of his cats or his road trips aboard his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, which he lovingly called Dancer.

But he was much more than a columnist.

“I have not met a more dedicated, hardworking reporter than him,” said Lee Imada, managing editor of the Maui News. “When he took on a beat, like local theater productions, he attended every one. He told me once that it was his responsibility to the readers.”

Born in Illinois, Youngblood got his start in the news business with United Press International. After covering the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, he ended up at The Honolulu Advertiser, first on Oahu and later as the Maui reporter.

Youngblood fell in love with the island, and that’s where he stayed, working in Maui radio, as information officer for Maui County and as editor of the now-defunct weekly Maui Sun. He also wrote a book, “On the Hana Coast,” in 1983.

The chain-smoking, chopper-riding journalist was hired as wire editor for the Maui News in 1984 before taking over the opinion pages in 2000. All the while, he wrote his Thursday Page 3 column and people profiles and conducted a weekday segment on Hawaii Public Radio from the newsroom.

Youngblood approached his stage reviews with masterful small-island tact, avoiding the use of any disparaging comments but reserving the raves for when they were truly deserved.

Youngblood retired in 2009 but continued writing his column until late last year.

“At times, Ron could be crusty and we had our blowouts, but I always knew that there was a soft, caring person underneath. He was always ready to lend a hand with a flat tire or transport to the airport,” Imada said.

Services have not yet been scheduled.

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