My Mentor, the Mayor.

Some of us—the lucky ones—have someone in our pasts who took a liking to us and became a mentor. When that happens, it can change your life.

My mentor was Frank Fasi.

Born and raised in East Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Italian immigrants, Frank had first come to Honolulu in 1942 as a U.S. Marine captain en route to the South Pacific. He survived the war, but remained in Honolulu after he was mustered out of The Corps in 1945.

Frank was an enterprising young man and he quickly settled into life in post-war Honolulu: he married a local girl, started a family and began his own business.

He bought used quonset huts from the military for a song and sold them to the sugar and pineapple plantations for housing their field hands and for storing their equipment.

The quonset huts had to be transported from military property to the various plantations, so Frank went into the house-moving business. And that was when Frank Fasi found himself in conflict with the law.

A city ordinance at the time specified that house-movers had to do the actual move after midnight and they were also required to have an escort of two off-duty Honolulu police officers, one in front, the other in back. Furthermore, the law specified that for their services the police officers would be paid $25 an hour—a princely sum in the early 1950s.

Frank refused to go along with what he considered to be a rip-off. He moved the quonset huts after midnight as required, but had his employees serve as escorts instead of the policemen. Most of the time he got away with it. 

Most of the time.

Sometimes the cops did catch him. On those occasions, they would gleefully write tickets for not having the required police escort. Frank would refuse to pay the tickets, which resulted in fines, which, as a matter of principle, he also refused to pay. By the time the matter actually got to court, the accumulation of tickets and fines was such that he would have been bankrupt if found guilty.

But he wasn’t. He was found not guilty and, motivated by that experience, Frank Fasi ran for public office. 

And he was elected to the State Senate . . . and then to the Honolulu City Council  . . .and then, in 1969, Frank Fasi was elected Mayor of Honolulu, an office he held for a total of 22 years. There is general agreement, even among his former opponents, that he was the best mayor in the history of Honolulu.

My advice: If you’re going to have a mentor, try to pick a good one.