Lex Brodie – Doing it the right way for a long time.

I first arrived in Hawaii on the 1st of May in 1962. It’s changed a great deal over the years, of course, but I remember, even then, thinking how truly wonderful this place must have been 25 or 30 years earlier … when the Moana and the Royal Hawaiian were really the only two hotels on Waikiki Beach and it took tourists almost a week to get here by ship from the West Coast.

Lex Brodie was there in those days. He was born on Kauai, but moved to Oahu when he was just a kid. As a young man, Lex gave surfing lessons to tourists and apparently specialized in young females. By his own account, he had an awfully good time for what most of us would consider a well-spent youth.

Child movie star Shirley Temple posed with Waikiki beach boys some time in the 30s. Lex Brodie is the tall one standing behind her and to the left.

Back around 1960, Lex opened a tire store in Honolulu and became a local celebrity because of his TV commercials, every one of which closed with Lex looking into the camera and saying, “Thank you (pause) very much” (emphasis on “very”).

There were other tire stores in Honolulu, of course, but for me and most folks, it was unthinkable to buy tires anywhere but at Lex Brodie’s. I pulled in one day to get a slow leak fixed and, while I was waiting, couldn’t help notice that every one of the half-dozen people working there were really hustling about their work. The whole place seemed to be running on fast-forward.

Lex himself was doing some paperwork at an old metal desk sitting on a kind of platform a couple of steps above the main floor. Lex and I belonged to a couple of civic organizations together and I wandered over to say hello. During the conversation, I mentioned his hustling employees and asked how he managed to motivate them. Lex smiled at me. “It’s the ‘No Walls’ theory,” he said. “They can all see me, and I can see all of them.”

Lex was active in a great many community organizations and served for years as an elected member of the Board of Education. But he always loved surfing and for decades, Lex kept a surfboard in a locker at Waikiki Beach. He continued to surf there almost every morning for years … finally giving it up at age 90. I remember a wonderful photo on the wall of his tire store. It showed three generations of Brodies – Lex, his son, Sandy, and a tow-headed grandson – all surfing the same wave off Waikiki … and all three of them grinning happily at the camera.

Lex Brodie turned 97 a week ago, still an inspiration to us all.

Hau`oli la Hanau, Lex. And thank you … very much.