Former Big Island Rep. Bob Herkes has died, according to a press release by the Hawaii House of Representatives. The Hawaii Tribue-Herald is reporting Herkes was 83.
"A former state representative, state senator, Hawaii County Council member and local businessman, Bob had a solid record of getting things done for the people of Hawaii," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. "His long career in public service brought about countless benefits for Hawaii Island, including his integral role in incorporating the appropriation for the first FEMA-certified shelter in Kau, providing a drinking water system for Ocean View, and establishing a mobile medical van to bring basic medical services to rural areas."
"I am saddened to learn of the passing of former lawmaker Robert 'Bob' Herkes and my thoughts and prayers are with Jo-Anna and their family. Our state lost a revered man who dedicated his life to public service, and we were lucky to have him serve as a state senator, state representative and Hawaii County Council member. Even after leaving the Legislature, Bob never stopped contributing to the well-being of our state. The Senate in April confirmed him as a member of the Hawaii Tourism Authority Board and he was scheduled to attend his first meeting just a few days ago. Until the end, he was committed to improving the lives of Hawaii's people," said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. "Bob cared deeply about his home and its people. He fought tirelessly to strengthen our communities and create a better life for all. Many will remember him for effectively passing legislation helping homeowners during the mortgage foreclosure crisis, and spearheading efforts to address the impacts of VOG on health and safety, agriculture, the economy and tourism. Because of his work, Hawaii Island received a mobile medical van that acts as a roving clinic in under-served areas. He was a respected lawmaker, sharp businessman and compassionate mentor and friend. We will miss him dearly."
"Hawaii has lost a dedicated and passionate public servant who championed protecting consumer rights during his 18 years in the State House of Representatives. Bob worked tirelessly to pass legislation that strengthened the rights of residents in mortgage foreclosures," said Rep. Joe Souki. "He was an early and strong advocate of natural disaster preparedness and was one of the first to call attention to the health effects of vog. He was a good legislator, highly respected by his colleagues and a great friend. I will miss him."
Herkes is survived by his wife Jo-Anna and his sons Bobby, Kenny and Doug.
Herkes was born in Iloilo City in the Philippines. He was raised in Hilo and was a third generation resident of the Big Island.
A retired hotel executive, Rep. Herkes graduated with honors from Cornell Hotel School and worked in the hospitality industry for 40 years.
His political career began in 1982 when he served on the Hawai'i County Police Commission. Then in 1994, he was elected to the Hawai'i County Council. In 1988, he was appointed to the State Senate to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Richard Henderson. He was elected to the State House in 1992, ran for Hawai'i County Mayor in 2000, and was re-elected to the State House in 2002.