Randy Hongo, a beloved Christian recording artist and Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning musician, died Saturday morning. He was 70.
Kalihi Union Church Senior Pastor Jonathan Steeper said Hongo was on his way to a performance at a seniors’ home in Honolulu with a choir and hula group when he collapsed.
Hongo and his wife, Gay Hongo, founded Christian Vision in 1982 and traveled throughout Hawaii and the world with their music. They met at Kalihi Union Church and were part of the congregation for decades.
Their Christian Vision website biography said that they had produced 19 recordings, six of which won the Na Hoku Hanohano Award. They were also raising funds to build a music school, the Hongo Music and Life Center, on the grounds of Kalihi Union Church.
“Randy was a great friend,” said Steeper. “He was just a delight. … They (he and Gay) are very much a part of our ohana and the church ohana. He had a very strong heart of aloha for the islands and for the gospel in the islands. That was his passion, and he took that wherever he went.”
Hongo was born July 1, 1947, in Hilo. He and his wife met when he was a Hilo transplant and she was a student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, according to their newsletter. They married in 1971.
They performed at numerous events worldwide, including the 1998 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., a gathering coordinated by U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka and attended by President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. The Hongos’ travels took them to 42 states, England, Scotland, Wales, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Canada and Brazil.
Despite battling multiple myeloma, Hongo continued to perform and present concerts and musicals.
He is survived by wife Gay and son Andrew.
Visitation is set for 9 a.m. Saturday at Kalihi Union Church, 2214 N. King St., and services at 11 a.m., followed by a reception.