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Tribute to Sen. Daniel K. Inouye

January 3, 2013

Ronald M Higashi, executive director of the Susannah Wesley Community Center in Honolulu, sent to United Methodist News Service his tribute to the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

Inouye, a lifelong member of the Methodist tradition, also gave his time and financial support to the United Methodist mission agency that serves the financially strapped Kalihi neighborhood in Honolulu. The Hawaiian senator died Dec. 17 at the age of 88. Below is Higashi’s tribute:

“The senator was a regular visitor to Susannah Wesley Community Center over the years. He was the co-chair of the fundraising campaign over 15 years ago that resulted in the construction of our youth center that today provides positive youth development programs and services to hundreds of youth and families annually.

“He regularly attended, when his congressional duties allowed, our Competency Based High School Diploma Program graduation exercises. The program is for high school dropouts who, for whatever the reason, were unable to function in the traditional school setting. Although some annual graduation classes were as few as 10 youth, he would be there to congratulate them on their success and persistence.

“Throughout the years, the senator was an ‘Angel’ to the center. He has stepped in more than once, without being approached, to help the center as funding for much-needed human services decreased. Most recently he and his wife, Irene Hirano, gave us a large personal contribution that enable matches by two large national foundations. This enabled the center to continue to provide much needed services.

“His presence will be missed by the center and those that we serve.”