Benny Agbayani Sr. loved dancing and saw it as a way to meet and connect with people from all walks of life. He served as dance director of the Hawaii Ballroom Dance Association for nearly 25 years.
Agbayani died Dec. 27 at the age of 82.
A retired Coast Guard housing manager stationed at Red Hill, Agbayani and wife Faith joined the dance association in 1979. After Agbayani took over to helm the association in 1998, Faith said, ballroom dancing took up much of their time. But that’s the way they liked it.
“It was an experience that we really enjoyed together,” said Faith, the association’s associate dance director. “I always had this passion for dancing, and so I asked him if we could go down and register. He tried to always make me happy.”
Agbayani grew up in Waiawa and graduated with his GED from Aiea High School. The couple married in 1971 and raised three boys: Lanny, Brendyn and Benny Jr., a professional baseball player.
He was a very involved father, Faith said. He coached the boys’ sports teams growing up and was there to support them at their games and school activities as they got older.
When the boys were older, Faith said, she and her husband had a lot of extra time. So, they picked up bowling and then ballroom dancing. Benny used to bowl a perfect 300-point game at Aiea Bowl, she said.
Faith said Benny didn’t initially want to join the ballroom dance association, and he even waited outside the door when the couple went to check out a class. He told Faith he didn’t think he could dance. But his outgoing personality took over, she said. He loved to talk to people and meet other dancers, including many of the Filipino members who joined when the dance association expanded to the West side. Agbayani’s parents immigrated to Hawaii from Illocos Norte, a Philippine province.
The couple won numerous national gold, silver and bronze awards for their dancing. But Faith said the best part of dancing was spending time together and being part of the dance association’s family.
In addition to his wife, Agbayani is survived by their three sons; brothers William, Pedro, Alfred and James “Jaime” Agbayani; four grandsons; and four granddaughters.
Agbayani’s family will hold a celebration of life Jan. 28 at Borthwick Mortuary. Visitation will be at 10 a.m. and the service at 11 a.m. A burial will follow at 2 p.m. at Hawaiian Memorial Park.