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Friends discuss Murdock's struggle with Lanai

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Jun 21 2012 05:15:26 PM HST

People from Lanai react to the recent land deal.

HONOLULU -

After being on sale for a year, billionaire David Murdock landed a deal to sell the island of Lanai.

"We were just waiting on the fence for more than a year to see which way the island would go," said long-time Lanai newspaper writer Alberta De Jetley.

After more than 25 years of ownership Murdock inked a deal with Oracle co-founder and CEO Larry Ellison.

And the two are apparently moving fast.  According to papers filed with the Public Utilities Commission, Murdock’s company Castle & Cooke hope to close the deal by June 27.

"He just had it in his mind already what he was going to do to Lanai already it was unbelievable," said De Jetley, emotional about her first meeting with Murdock more than a quarter of a century ago.

De Jetley now writes for Lanai Today.  She said Murdock arrived as the pineapple plantations were going downhill, along with the rest of the limping economy, and redeveloped, bringing resorts, golf courses and jobs. 

It was a move, that for many residents to this day, has earned their undying support.

"It was because of Murdocks deep pockets that were were able to ride the ups and downs," she said.

But De Jetley believes it's been an tough endeavor for Murdock.  She told KITV even after cost-cutting, Murdock, who called her right before Wednesday’s sale announcement, was losing 10 million a year on the island.

"Who in their right mind done that?  He really loves this island.  He really loves Lanai," she said.

From one pair of deep pockets to another.  Billionaire Larry Ellison is hoping to close the deal by next week, which was news that surprised lawmakers.

Sen. Shan Tsutsui sent a letter to the governor on Wednesday, asking him to consider having the state bid for the island, but even he admits, it appears a deal is imminent.

"I didn't realize they were this far along in negotiations.  At this point, I just hope Mr. Ellison has best interest of the people of Lanai in mind.  But what ever happens, I hope he considers giving greater control to the people over the island," said Tsutsui.

"It would be so nice to see him happy again," said De Jetley, who said it’s been an emotional ride for her friend.

Murdock lost two sons:  One from a pool accident; Another from a car crash.  He also lost his third wife to cancer as he was preparing to buy the island.

But for residents, it's a ride that's now taken a whole new path.

"I think it's a great shot in the arm for our island," said De Jetley.

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