Kimo Wilder McVay
- Friday, June 29, 2001
PROMOTER KIMO McVAY DIES OF CANCER AT 73
By John Berger
Entertainment promoter Kimo Wilder McVay died early today at Kaiser
Hospital. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer. He was 73.
McVay was the son of Charles Butler McVay III and Kinau Wilder; his
mother was of the Hawaii Wilder family for whom Wilder Avenue is
named. (Kimo's older brother, Charles Butler McVay IV, was nicknamed
McVay will be remembered as a guy who loved the challenge of
promotion -- particularly entertainment events.
He made Duke Kahanamoku's the Waikiki hot spot in the mid-1960s and
managed Don Ho & The Aliis for part of that time.
When Ho and the Aliis parted company, he brought in John Rowles from
New Zealand to be the "new Don Ho."
McVay managed -- for various lengths of time -- the careers of Andy
Bumatai, Freddie Morris & Moku Kahana, and magician John Hirokawa.
He also worked closely with Yemun Chung, the original Fabulous Krush,
and Carole Kai in the late-70s and early '80s.
McVay had devoted the last years of his life to the campaign to clear
his father's name regarding the sinking of the heavy cruiser
Indianapolis in the last days of World War II.
He staged a media event in December 1990 that brought together
several Indianapolis survivors, the commander of the Japanese
submarine that sank the ship, and author Dan Kurzman, to promote the
publication of Kurzman's book on the tragedy and subsequent
scapegoating of his father for the loss of the ship and most of the
McVay loved to send odd gifts to people on opening night, including
once giving Don Ho a live duck on stage.
He was also known as Kimo "Knuckles" McVay in reference to his skill
as a piano player.
McVay was a better promoter than businessman, but always seemed to
land on his feet and make his way into the local three-dot columns.
His wife, Betsy, was in a wheelchair and an invalid for years. He had
a hard time the last few years caring for her and then fighting
Services are pending. Besides his wife, he is survived by two
daughters, Lindsey and Melissa and five grandchildren.
Kimo was the grandson of James Austin Wilder, close friend of DBs in
the twenties and thirties. I spoke to Kimo McVay on the phone in
April or May, and he didn't know much about Blanding. I asked him if
the family had any artwork or letters of DBs, and he said there was
nothing. He seemed a little impatient...I had no idea he was battling
cancer. I will try and locate his two daughters...and maybe they
would know more.