Kauai News

Kaua‘i Leaders Mourn Death of Former Hawaiʻi County Mayor Billy Kenoi

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Former Hawaiʻi County Mayor Billy Kenoi has died.

Since 2015, Kenoi battled rare blood cancer, myelofibrosis. He died Tuesday afternoon at home in Volcano surrounded by family. He was 52 years old.

Kenoi’s ʻohana is grateful for the outpouring of aloha, and thanks everyone for their support. Details on memorial services are forthcoming. News of Kenoi’s death spread rapidly throughout the state, with many in public service expressing their condolences and personal connections with the former mayor, who served from 2008-15.

Kaua‘i County Mayor Derek SK Kawakami stated he shares in the “overwhelming outpouring of love as we grieve for Billy.”

“While he may have been a Mayor of a county, he was more than that – he was a son of Hawaiʻi,” Kawakami stated. “Billy had the unique gift to find each person’s strength, speak to it, then inspire. He moved not just minds, he moved hearts.”


Kenoi was a role model for Kawakami — in his leadership and how to live life to the fullest.

“I am eternally grateful for his mentorship, guidance, and friendship these past years,” the Kaua‘i mayor said. “Monica and I extend our deepest aloha and sympathy to Billy’s ‘ohana – his wife Takako, and his kids Mahina, Justin, and Liam. Hawaiʻi is a better place because we have known Billy. We will miss him.”

Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (District 8 – Kauaʻi and Niʻihau) also expressed sadness in hearing the news of Kenoi’s passing.

“He was a dedicated public servant who deeply cared about the people of Hawaiʻi,” Kouchi said. “Even in the midst of his own health challenges, Billy continued to inspire those around him through with his warm sense of humor and his gift of oratory.


My heartfelt aloha goes out to his wife – Takako, his children – Liam, Justin and Mahina and the rest of the Kenoi ʻohana.”

Friend and colleague Hawai‘i County Councilwoman Maile David said she and Kenoi had a close working relationship when he was mayor.

“He did so much for this island,” David told Big Island Now Tuesday. “What I really honor him for was bringing the island together as a whole.”

Prior to coming into office, David said, there seemed to be a sense of East Hawaiʻi and West Hawaiʻi as separate entities. He united the island, she explained.


US Congressman Kai Kahele said Kenoi knew how to make anyone feel special. Through his inspiring words he was able to touch the hearts of others, and in doing so, often created positive change in the community where needed.

“With Billy, he would be the last to accept recognition, yet the first to give it to someone else,” Kahele said in a statement. “Billy showed us, by example, the importance of investing in our communities. His imprint and contributions are seen throughout the County of Hawaiʻi and will be felt for generations.

“Maria and I extend our deepest sympathies to Billy’s wife Takako, his daughter Mahina, and his sons Justin and Liam.

Billy leaves an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of the people of Hawai‘i, especially those lives he generously touched on Hawaiʻi Island. He will be greatly missed.”

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