The Friends of the Natatorium, which maintains this site, advocates for the preservation and restoration of the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial. We seek the return of this spectacular facility to active recreational use by the families of Oahu and by visitors to Hawai’i.
The 100-meter ocean pool was opened in 1927 as a tribute to more than 10,000 servicemen from Hawai’i who served in World War I, including at least 101 who died in that war. It was Territorial Hawai’i’s official monument to their service and sacrifice, designed as a “living memorial” and as a symbol of the way of life they fought to defend. The Friends believes that, in allowing the Natatorium to deteriorate and eventually to close, the state of Hawai’i and city and county of Honolulu shamefully broke faith with and dishonored those World War I soldiers and sailors.
Neglect of the Natatorium also broke faith with the generations of Hawai’i families who brought children to learn to swim in its waters, with the heroes of Hawai’i who competed there in national and international aquatic competitions, and with all who love the history and cultural legacy that make Hawai’i unique among the 50 states.
The Friends of the Natatorium was incorporated in 1986 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Since then, its volunteer directors and supporters have worked tirelessly to educate government officials and the general public about the Natatorium’s epic past and potential future.
Allies in our Cause
Preservation and renovation of the Natatorium has been formally endorsed by a broad base of stakeholders including veteran, Native Hawaiian, and historic preservation groups. A list of pro-preservation organizations from Hawai’i and at the national level can be found here. We’ve also been proud over the years to have had the support of prominent government leaders, including Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii; the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawai’i; well-known watermen, including Brian Keaulana; and Olympic gold medal swimmers and diver, Ford Konno, Bill Smith, Aileen Riggin Soule, and Bill Woolsey.
Since 1989, the Friends has sponsored a Memorial Day Weekend observance in the park outside the Natatorium to honor America’s war dead and veterans and to keep faith with those in whose memory the Natatorium was built. Veterans Day services at the Natatorium have been led each year by VFW Post 8616.
What You Can Do
To learn more about what you can do to help us Remember, Respect and Renew the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial, visit our “What else can I do?” page. To donate to our effort, go to our contributions page. You can contact us here.
The Board of Directors
The present board of directors, carrying on the Friends’ quarter-century of ardent advocacy, includes Mo Radke, president; Donna L. Ching, vice president; Jim Anderson, treasurer; Yvonne Geesey, secretary; and directors Frank Weight, Fred Wong, Jill Byus Radke, Michael Soucie, and Simon Tetlow.
We owe an unpayable debt of gratitude to avid supporters and past members of the board of directors of the Friends of the Natatorium. Far too many of them have dedicated decades of tireless advocacy and died without seeing the Natatorium restored to its intended use. Past members of honorary and regular boards include:
– Joan Sheeran Apo, former executive director of the Friends of the Natatorium
– Peter Apo, past president of the Friends; Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee; former state representative
– *Fred W. Ballard, longtime activist on veterans’ issues
– *Nancy Bannick, philanthropist and historic preservationist
– *Kenneth F. Brown, Chairman of Queens Medical Center, State Senator, and fishing buddy of Duke Kahanamoku
– *Maleka Brown, former lifeguard and matron of the Natatorium
– *Richard Cleveland, Olympic Swim Team Member 1952
– Eric Crispin
– Patty Doo
– F. Donald Duckworth, PhD, former president of the Bishop Museum
– Chris Duplanty, Olympic Waterpolo Team Member 1988 (silver medal), 1992 and 1996
– John Henry Felix, former Honolulu city councilman
– Dr. Samuel James Freas, President, International Swimming Hall of Fame
– Ambrose “Rowdy” Gaines — Olympic Swim Team Member 1984 (3 gold medals)
– Bruce Hopping, Chairman of International Swimming Hall of Fame and Kalos Kagathos
– *Nadine Kahanamoku
– Evelyn Kawamoto Konno, Olympic Swim Team Member 1952 (2 bronze medals)
– Ford Konno, Olympic Swim Team Member 1952 (two gold and one silver medal) and 1956 (silver medal)
– William P. Kozlovsky, lieutenant commander, U.S. Coast Guard, retired
– Lydia Lake
– *Roger Lee
– Spencer Leinewebber
– Michelle Matson
– *Mary Jane McMurdo, former state senator
– Eric Minuth
– *Keo Nakama, 1939 Pan American Game medalist, 17-time National Collegiate Champion, Molokai Channel Crosser
– *Katherine “Kay” Napoleon, widow of Walter Napoleon, last superintendent of the Natatorium
– John Nielsen
– Monte Nitzkowski, President, World Waterpolo Coaches Association; U.S. Olympic Waterpolo Coach 1974-1984, U.S. Waterpolo Delegate to FINA (Federation International Aquatic)
– George Onekea, Jr., Olympic Swim Team Member 1956
– Yoshi Oyakawa, Olympic Swim Team Member 1952 (gold medal) and 1956 (gold medal)
– *Lin Pang, past president of the Friends
– Ed Pskowski
– Pokey Watson Richardson, Olympic Swim Team Member 1964 (gold medal), and 1968 (gold medal)
– Victor Rittenband
– Soichi Sakamoto, coach of more than six Olympic Champions between 1948 and 1956 teams, International Swimming Hall of Fame inductee
– *Alice Shelly
– *Bill Smith, Olympic Swim Team Member 1948 (two gold medals), set 8 World and 12 American Records between 1944 and 1948
– C. Bruce Smith, admiral, U.S. Navy, retired
– *Aileen Riggin Soule, Olympic Dive Team Member 1920 (gold medal), Olympic Dive (silver medal) and Swim Team Member 1924 (bronze medal), America’s first female Olmypic medal winner, one of only two Olympians to medal in two sports, multiple gold medalist in national and international masters swim competitions, International Swimming Hall of Fame inductee
– Walter Tagawa, major general, U.S. Army, retired
– Gerald Takano
– Richard “Sonny” Tanabe, Olympic Swim Team Member 1956
– André S. Tatibouet, Aston Hotels founder
– Earl Pamai Tenn
– Alan Voronaeff, former Kapiolani Park Preservation Society president
– Ken Walsh, Olympic Swim Team Member 1968 (two gold, one silver medal)
– Keala O’Sullivan Watson, Olympic Dive Team Member 1968 (bronze medal)
– Dr. Chris Woo, Olympic Swim Team Member 1976
– Bill Woolsey, Olympic Swim Team Member 1952 (two gold medals), and 1956 (silver medal)
– *Ron Yasui
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