Remembering a Fallen Crusader


Connor McIntosh, Staff Writer

On the 90th anniversary of his death, Crusader students, their parents, along with alumni and faculty, gathered at the Puea Cemetery in Kapālama to clean the gravesite of Saint Louis alumnus, Joseph Kahahawai, Jr.  Kahahawai Jr. was murdered in 1932 as part of the famous Massie case which is studied here at the school.  

The Massie Case includes the alleged 1931 assault of Thalia Massie, as well as the subsequent trial for the murder of Kahahawai Jr. in 1932.   The 1931 trial focused on the charges of assault, robbery, and rape reported by Thalia Massie, identifying a group of local men which included Joseph Kahahawai Jr..  The jury, deadlock and divided, resulted in a mistrial.

Grace Fortescue, Thalia Massie’s mother and from an influential East Coast family, angered by the verdict, arranged for the kidnapping of Kahahawai Jr., who was beaten while attempting to force a confession from him.  Ultimately, Kahahawai Jr. was shot and killed.

The second trial for the first-degree murder of Joseph Kahahawai, Jr.,  which took place on January 8, 1932, found Fortescue and her accomplice guilty of manslaughter.  Now, here’s the interesting twist.  Fortescue’s sentence was immediately commuted from ten years in prison to one hour by Territorial Governor Lawrence M. Judd. 

The Massie Trial is one of the many things that are covered by the teachers at Saint Louis School in light of the historical significance of this landmark case in Hawaii’s history. “I think, for our students,” explains Saint Louis Principal and 1978 alumnus, Tim  Los Baños, “it’s important to know that we do have a long line of alumni and alumnus coming before us.”

To remember Crusader alumnus Joseph Kahahawai Jr., the Crusader Hours Club, founded by senior Malakai Holland, regularly sponsors a cleanup at Puea Cemetery, the final resting place for Kahahawai, Jr..  “I gained the respect of many workers that do cleaning jobs,” says CHC founder, senior Malakai Holland.  “It’s not easy to do this and I give props to those who do and it gives me peace of mind that I’m helping out a fallen brother of ours.”  

This year,  the Crusader Hours Club honored the 90th anniversary of the death of Kahahawai Jr. with both faculty and alumni also in attendance.  “From this experience, I was able to interact with my Saint Louis brothers in a positive way,” shares junior Landon Parker,  “as well as give back to the alumni of the school.  I was also able to spend time with my peers, learn more about my teachers, and make new friends.”  

As Saint Louis School moves towards the future, the school honors the importance of understanding and learning from the past.  Joseph Kahahawai Jr. will always be remembered as a part of the Saint Louis School Brotherhood. 

“It’s the Brotherhood no matter what,” says Dean of Faculty and Staff, Ray Abregano.  “We are our brothers’ keeper in the sense that anyone who walks through the halls of Saint Louis school is a part of the Brotherhood.”