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NO. 2020 – 19


WHEREAS, Debbie was born on October 12, 1949 at Queen’s Hospital, Honolulu, Hawaii; and

WHEREAS, Debbie a daughter born to Emma Branco and then hānai to Emma’s sister, Beatrice Kuni and her husband, Abraham; and

WHEREAS, Debbie married Christopher Kelsey in 1974 and raised two wonderful children, Blythe Iakuinipuaʻokahana Kelsey and Quinn Kamakanalani Kelsey; and

WHEREAS, while Debbie could have easily embarked on a successful professional opera career, Debbie chose to stay in Hawaiʻi and raise a family; and

WHEREAS, Debbie graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1967 and the University of Hawaii in 1984, with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education; and

WHEREAS, Debbie was the University Laboratory School Choir director for over 30 years; and

WHEREAS, as one of the premier sopranos in the state of Hawaii from the 1960’s through 2012, Debbie was a featured soloist with many organizations, including the Hawaiʻi Opera Theatre, the Royal Hawaiian Band, the Hawaiʻi Youth Symphony, the University of Hawaii Symphony, and the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra (formally the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra); and

WHEREAS, as a church soloist (from a very young age), Debbie sang at Olivet Baptist Church, University Avenue Baptist Church, and finally Central Union Church, and also directed the choirs at UABC and Central Union Church; and

WHEREAS, Debbie was a coach for the Kamehameha School’s Song Contests in late 1970’s and early 1980’s, and was also a judge on several occasions; and

WHEREAS, Debbie also directed a number of other choirs, including the Kamehameha Alumni Glee Club, the Queen Emma Hawaiian Civic Club, and the Prince Kūhiō Hawaiian Civic Club, with the Queen Emma Hawaiian Civic Club winning many first-place awards during the Association of Hawaiian Civic Club’s ʻAha Mele Competitions; and

WHEREAS, in the 1980’s, Debbie was a frequent winner of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Vocal Competition and the regional Metropolitan Opera auditions; and

WHEREAS, Debbie was a member of the Hawaiian music trio, “No Ka Liko”, she was a frequent wedding soloist and often sang for Hawaiʻi Baptist Association functions; and

WHEREAS, Debbie was supportive of all her colleagues, her students, her friends, and her family, and many of her friends responded with kind and wonderful thoughts about Debbie; and

WHEREAS, Debbie was an unforgettable woman and has left a legacy to Hawaii and was a treasure to her community and everyone learned a lot and she helped them improve their singing abilities; and

WHEREAS, Debbie patiently shared her love for music to all of her students, translated every Hawaiian song so that we understood and visualized and expressed the places we sang about, allowed students to express the meaning of the song through their voices; and

WHEREAS, their songs were about being invited to a party and Debbie said, “we should look like we were enjoying the party,” which made her happy as she wanted us to feel like we were singing to Royalty; and

WHEREAS, Hawaii has lost a “GEM,” as Debbie is, and will be, sorely missed as she was called to be with her Lord, her ʻohana and friends, on Friday, October 16. 2020, and a memorial service will be held sometime next year; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs at its 61st Annual Convention in held online, in the malama of Makali‘i and the rising of ʻOlekūkolu, this 22nd day of November 2020, honoring the memory of and acknowledging the contributions of Deborah Mary Kelsey; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs extends its heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the ʻohana of Deborah Mary Kelsey and to the members of Queen Emma Hawaiian Civic Club; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a certified copy of this resolution be transmitted to Deborah Mary Kelsey’s husband, Christopher Kelsey, Blythe Iakuinipuaʻokahana Kelsey, Quinn Kamakanalani Kelsey, the Queen Emma’s Hawaiian Civic Club, as well as the Governor of the State of Hawai‘i, President of the State Senate, Speaker of the State House of Representatives, Chair of the State Senate subject matter committee on Hawaiian Affairs, Chair of the State House subject matter committee on Hawaiian Affairs, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and all other County Mayors.

The undersigned herby certifies that the foregoing Resolution was duly adopted in the malama of Makaliʻi and the rising of ʻOlekūkolu on the 22nd day of November 2020, at the 61st Annual Convention of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs held online.

Hailama V.K.K. Farden, President