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Celebrate a Legacy Honoree R. Alexander “Andy” Anderson

R. Alexander “Andy” Anderson in 1963

Who in Hawaiʻi hasn’t heard the distinctive melodies of “Mele Kalikimaka,” “Lovely Hula Hands,” and “I Will Remember You”?  These are the legacy of legendary songwriter Alexander “Andy” Anderson, a true son of Hawaiʻi, born in 1894 and a musical force until his death in 1995, a week short of his 101st birthday.  In his full life, he wrote more than 200 songs about the islands … and his music can still be heard throughout Hawaiʻi and, indeed, all over the world.  While his inspiration was Hawaiʻi, many of his compositions were written to be sung by his wife, Peggy Center.

His fame was built on the music he wrote, but his financial success made it possible to write purely for pleasure.  He never had to write for money.  A graduate of Punahou School (He wrote “Go Punahou!”) and Cornell University, he was equally at home in the boardroom and the music studio.  He was instrumental in redeveloping the Hawaiʻi Tourist Bureau into a more modern organization – today’s Hawaiʻi Visitors and Convention Bureau – expanding its role in tourism marketing.   A believer in the power of cooperation, he was a founding member of the Hawaiʻi Hotel Association and the Pacific Area Travel Association (now the Pacific Asia Travel Association).  As long-time president of Von Hamm Young (which sold building supplies) and as general manager of the Alexander Young Hotel (built by his grandfather) – he had a front row seat during the early growth of Hawaiʻi’s tourism economy.

The next time you hear “I’ll Weave a Lei of Stars for You” remember Andy Anderson, the legend of Hawaiian Hospitality … the Pied Piper of Hawaiʻi … who left us his enduring legacy of Hawaiian music.

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