Jim Nabors — beloved showroom star, television icon, recording artist, honorary Marine — was remembered with music performances, heartfelt speeches, vintage photos and video clips at a private celebration of life hosted by Stan Cadwallader, his husband and partner of more than 40 years, today at the Pacific Club.
Nabors was 87 when he died on Nov. 30 at their Black Point residence, and Cadwallader told the capacity crowd of friends, relatives, invited members of the media, entertainers and neighbors that Nabors had planned the event during the final year of his life.
Almost everything went exactly as Nabors had planned it.
Pianist Ginny Tiu played “The Lord’s Prayer.” Karen Keawehawai‘i, one of the perennial guests at his “Merry Christmas With Friends and Nabors” shows, sang “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.” Lea Friedman Almanza sang another of Nabors’ favorites, “Ave Maria.”
The wide range of Nabors’ friendships in Hawaii and beyond was seen in the diversity of the guests: Diamond Head Theatre Artistic Director John Rampage, and Burton White, former artistic director of the Hawaii Theatre, both of whom had worked with Nabors on the “Merry Christmas with Friends and Nabors” shows. Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Hank Stackpole, and his wife, Vivien. Danny Kaleikini and Linda Wong, Charlyn Honda Masini, local television exec Rick Blangiardi and veteran producer Phil Arnone.
Guests received a copy of “Jim Nabors’ Impossible Dream,” the 2015 Hawaii News Now documentary, as a memento.
Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Earl Hailston described the thrill he and his wife felt meeting Nabors in 2001 when Nabors was made an “honorary Marine” and his alter ego, Gomer Pyle, was promoted from private first class to lance corporal. Nabors and Cadwallader had helped his wife while he was serving in Iraq and then treated them both to some “decompression time” in Hana after he retired from the Marines.
Summing up, Hailston said “(Nabors) taught us to follow the ‘impossible dream.’”
Cadwallader was the last to speak.
“When you lose your life’s partner the only thing that makes it bearable is your friends, and I have been so fortunate that Jim has left me with so many good friends. It’s an incredible feeling,” he said. “I have had the greatest life with Jim Nabors. You cannot imagine what an honor it has been to be at his side. It was truly a great great gift to me.”
The program closed with a full-length video clip of Nabors singing “The Impossible Dream” on his CBS television variety show, “The Jim Nabors Hour,” in 1969.