Founder, Holani Hana Inc. (1924 – 2016)
Maui News Report – Conservator of Hana culture for decades dies at 92 on May 24, 2016
Coila Eade ran the Hana Cultural Center for more than 25 years
June 18, 2016
Coila Eade, the woman who led the nonprofit Hana Cultural Center for more than 25 years and was responsible for preserving Hana’s history, has died. She was 92.
Services were held on June 4 at the Wananalua Congregational Church in Hana, of which she was a board member.
“She was very generous,” said Esse Sinenci, Eade’s caregiver and former president of the cultural center. “She sustained the cultural center for 25 years.”
Sinenci said Eade, who helped start the center, volunteered her time as executive director of the center and never got paid. Eade also started up the museum’s newsletter.
In addition, Eade was responsible for getting the old county courthouse and jail in Hana on the National Register of Historic Places, Sinenci said.
“She was making history by saving it,” Sinenci said of her friend, who died on May 24.
Eade was born on Oct. 9, 1923, in Nebraska. She and her late husband, Les, moved to Hana in the 1960s to join Coila Eade’s brother, who had lived on Maui, friends said. The Eades fell in love with Hana.
Eade was a woodcarver and a preservationist and began heading the cultural center in 1979, when Muriel “Babes” Hanchett, the longtime leader, wanted to retire, Sinenci said. Eade was a charter member of the cultural center when Hanchett and others started it in the ’70s.
“(Eade) would grab anything she could if anyone offered” for the museum, said friend and Maui County Council Member Bob Carroll, who holds the Hana residency seat.
He said Eade was especially keen on obtaining documents that contained writing about the history of East Maui.
Eade’s late husband helped preserve Hana’s history too, taking photos of Hana residents that the cultural center houses. Carroll said many of those photographed have died; their legacies are preserved by Les Eade’s photos.
The Hana Cultural Center houses cultural and historical items including implements, Polynesian kapa, fishnets and hooks. It is located in the old Hana Courthouse, which still is in use, according to the center’s website. It is open to the public.
The center received a Certificate of Commendation for its contributions to state and local history from the American Association for State and Local History in 1994. The commendation was for restoration of Hana Hongwanji and the courthouse and building the museum. The organization also was commended for adding a state-of-the-art, environmentally controlled archival and collections storage annex.
Eade was a director and trustee of the center at the time of the commendation.
Eade lived on leased land from the state near Hana town. In addition to the home she lived in, she commissioned the building of a traditional hale. It was done by master builder Francis “Palani” Sinenci.
Eventually, Francis Sinenci and his wife, Esse, came to live with Eade after her husband died and she lived alone.
At the entrance to Eade’s property is one tiki that Eade carved from two logs that were about 12 feet tall and very thick, enough that a person could not wrap his or her arms around it, friends recalled.
“Everyone just laughed,” when Eade said she would carve a tiki from the logs, Carroll recalled. The logs were large and Eade was a small lady.
Eade was a “beautiful woman” inside and out, Sinenci said.
“She was so open, she was just there when anyone needed her,” Carroll said. “She was so friendly that even the unfriendly people were friendly with her.”
Eade is survived by a daughter, Sheri Rice, along with four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.