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A Few Good Men

Honoring men serving our community and investing in the next generation.

Article by John-Mark Dyer and Margaret Kearns

Photography by Taylor Veisauyadra, Rebekah Moyer, Michael Lasquero

Originally published in Kona Coast City Lifestyle

We want to recognize the good men in our community. The men who are making a positive impact by investing in the next generation by instilling values and good character. Each man has overcome adversity and deliberately chosen to live with an outward focus, choosing to serve those around him. While these men honor those who have shaped their lives, we celebrate the impact they have every day as they use their skills and passions to make our island a better home.

Shelton Grace

Kealakehe High School Teacher and Coach

“I really enjoy being around our youth and seeing them grow and accomplish new things. My biggest goal is to teach them how to love each other.” This vision started several years ago when Shelton attended Ed Silvoso’s, Transform Our World conference. “It talked about the Aloha spirit and it stuck with me because it’s our culture and I wanted to be an ambassador for that.” 

Shelton grew up in Kona, attended Konawaena and studied to become a teacher at university. “The goal was to come back and have an impact in my community.”

Shelton teaches math at Kealakehe High School along with a construction class and a program for special needs students. He took a group of 15 students and 10 staff to Mexico to build homes for the poor with Homes of Hope. “We take our construction based knowledge and use it as a gift.” 

When asked how he balances teaching, coaching and being a father of two he points to Star. “If it wasn’t for my wife being the rock of my family, I couldn’t do it. She makes it all possible.” He went on to share a list of men who made a significant impact on his life: Pastor Allen Cardenes, his father-in-law, Paul Chinen, Tiger Hill, his grandfather, Phillip Fijihara and his father, Preston Grace. 



 

Kealoha Kaopua

Island Breeze Productions

People see me as a kahu, a pastor and a steward of the history of Kona. “I want to keep that alive so generations from now will not forget. I want to bring those things from the past to the present and give it as a gift to future generations.” 

“My dad, Charles, was a fisherman and a mechanic. He was my greatest inspiration because he validated me. He thought about what I was going to do in my life and he had that picture in his mind. He has always been my greatest encourager.” 

After he graduated from high school, Kealoha was unsure about his path until someone suggested Youth With A Mission in Hilo. “That school became the incubator for Island Breeze.” 

“My heart’s desire is to build something that can keep our kids around. Entertainment is just one portion of that. Many move away after university and don’t think of coming back and contributing to their home.” Kealoha dreams about ways to strengthen Hawaiian culture and create job opportunities for young people. He recently became a member of the Kailua Village Design Commission to advance that dream. After this year’s Merrie Monarch festival, he was inspired with fresh vision, that we are in a special season to champion the Hawaiian identity. 


 

Brad Uemoto

Konawaena Head Football Coach

“We always use the word perseverance. We know there will always be struggles, in the household or the school, but football is the best sport to exercise perseverance.” This is one of the primary cultures Brad instilled in his players. And it was perseverance that led his Konawaena football team to defeat Waipahu and receive the first-ever state title in football for the Wildcats.

Brad grew up at Konawaena elementary and high school. He went to the University of Hawaii to get a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. “My college experience put perseverance in me. I challenged myself with a pretty tough degree. My first semester I got a 1.8 GPA, this wasn’t high school, I was on my own and there were no excuses, I had to figure it out.” He went on to make the dean’s list twice and graduated with a  3.2 GPA. “That example can be passed onto my students to build mental toughness. I hated studying, I hated reading, but I figured out what I had to do to succeed.” 

Brad honors previous head coach Cliff Walters for the significant role he played in building a championship program. “My first year as an offensive coordinator, our program was at an all-time low…we had a 2 win season. The following year, Cliff was head coach and we won 3 consecutive league titles. I took over a system that was running and had momentum.”

“We want to give every kid the best experience in high school football we can. The more we can impact these kids the better.” Brad’s father coached him in baseball when he was a boy. And he remembers his high school sports coaches with great fondness. He attributes his academic success and good sportsmanship to his mother’s influence. “All those values I still carry today,” Brad said.

TAD NOTTAGE
President, Aloha Insurance Services, Inc


A fourth-generation kama‘aina (son of the land) Tad Nottage is a native of Oahu who moved to Hawaii Island in 1987 following study at the University of the Puget Sound in Washington state and some years working on Maui. He joined his Uncle David Nottage’s First Insurance firm in Kona and years later formed Aloha Insurance Services, Inc., in 2000 with just three employees. Today he as a team of 25 employees at his Kailua-Kona based business and serving more 6500 clients.

“There’s no doubt that my father Peter Nottage was the biggest influence on my business ethics. He instilled three key things: Number one: There is no free lunch; number 2: When you work, work hard; number 3: When play, play hard but never mix the two,” Tad says. And today, when he plays hard it is almost always centered on water sports. Fishing, diving and surfing with his father, uncle and extended family over many years, fueled his love for the Ocean.

Growing up and living in Hawaii, he says, has taught him the importance of kina‘ole—doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, in the right place, to the right person, for the right reasons, with the right feeling the first time. He carries that with him always in both his professional and personal life.

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