Keahi Allen, the longtime administrator and enthusiastic proponent of the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission, died yesterday at Hawaii Medical Center of complications from diabetes. She was 66.
Her daughter, B.J. Allen, said Allen was driven for many years by a commitment to celebrating the Hawaiian culture. In her latter years, when she had to undergo dialysis, it was keeping up with the annual festival that kept her mind off her physical ailments.
B.J. Allen, who has since succeeded her mother on the commission, said the hallmark of her mother's life was commitment. "Whatever she said she was going to do, she did it," B.J. Allen said. "When she got involved in something, she took it and she made it her life's work."
That included advocating for the continuation of the celebration at a time when funds were tight. She felt a dedication to the efforts of King Lunalilo to benefit his people, B.J. Allen said.
Allen, whose husband William "Billy" Allen died last April, worked for 31 years with the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission. This year's celebration runs from June 6 to June 21 and includes a parade through Waikiki and the lei-draping of the Kamehameha I statue.
She created a King Kamehameha hula competition counterpart in Japan, her daughter said. She had been a member of the Daughters of Hawaii and was a trustee of Lunalilo Home, which offers assistance to older Hawaiians. Allen helped put on an annual fundraising golf tournament for that institution.
Born in Kahala in the days when it was a farming community, and raised in Kane'ohe, she attended the Kamehameha Schools and graduated from Castle High School. She is survived by her daughter and three grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.