Remembrance: Al and Elisabeth Achilles

posted while on tour [February 11, 2017]…

It is mid-February 2017 and I’m on a 6-week tour with Nathan Aweau and David Kahiapo. Tonight’s show is at CenterArts on the campus of Humboldt State University in Arcata, California.  Tomorrow we move on with two shows at the Blue Note at the Napa Valley Opera House…

I tried to call my longtime friends of over 40 years, Al and Elisabeth Achilles who lived in Napa in Silverado but both of their phones were disconnected so I tried to “Google” them. Here’s what I got!

Al and Elisabeth Achilles:  entry dated Jan 27, 2016:

As friends and neighbors to Al and Elisabeth Achilles we are all sad to announce their passing. Al on September 11, 2015 and Elisabeth (Liz) on December 16, 2015. Though they had no children, they adopted everyone into their family. They never met a stranger whether you were the busboy, gardener or the head chef, you were the same… “they loved the cookie maker”. After going thru the war in occupied Holland they immigrated to the Dutch Island of Aruba, where they met and married. The next step was to the United States, where Al continued his pursuit as an electrical engineer, Liz continued work as a pharmacist. Settling in Oakland, California they enjoyed the culture and night life of the 50’s and 60’s.

In 1969, Al moved his company, Golden Gate Switchboards, to Napa. This decision led to employment of many Napa natives. While working, it led to worldwide travels. Retirement led to vacations to South America, Caribbean Islands and Hawaii, all places warm.

All through their life they were dedicated to The Environment and Animal Rescue Causes. Some of their passions were The Opera House, The White Barn and any venue that supported grass roots music; favorites being Steel guitar, Slack Key guitar, Steel Drum, Jazz and Classical.

A special thanks to Bob and Carolyn, T.R. and Mary Jo for their kindness and support over the years. Also to Kaiser Hospice, especially Kathy and Jennifer, for your home nursing. Mary Ann Florida, Emma and all the other Caregivers.

As per Al and Elisabeth’s, request no services were held. Donations may be made to Kaiser Hospice, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Napa Salvation Army. Memories may be shared on-line at:

GK’s memories of Al & Elisabeth Achilles…February 2017

I first met Al and Elisabeth Achilles in 1975, early into my musical gig at the MKBH (Mauna Kea Beach Hotel) on the Big Island. During the day, I was the Director and High School Principal of Hale o Ho’oponopono, an alternative Konawaena High School Program funded by Kamehameha Schools located at Pu’uhonua O Honaunau at the City of Refuge in South Kona.  During the nights I played music with my brother Moses.

Al & Elisabeth were very friendly, inquisitive and wanted to visit my school and farm, going out of their way to visit me. Then they would take us and our families out to dinner at the Old Kamehameha Hotel in Kailua Kona to eat Al’s favorite, Prime Rib. Elisabeth always had fish.

Later in the early and mid 1980’s, I was farming 1200 acres of alfalfa hay while running a 500 cow-calf operation and ranch in North Kohala.  They still visited me and again we always ate Al’s treat, a Prime Rib dinner. In fact, every year they returned and they always were interested in what I was farming, be it growing root ginger, taro, cucumbers, green beans, pigs, ti leaf, kona coffee, macnuts, avocados, guavas, or mangos. They loyally followed my teaching, farming and ranching career; as well as our music.

In 1992, at the closing of the MKBH for a two-year renovation, my son Keoki and I moved to Maui to play music at the Westin Kaanapali. Guess what! Al and Elisabeth moved their yearly visit to Maui where we continued our annual family visits and Prime Rib dinners at Leilani’s on the Beach all the way until 2010.

In the mid 1990’s when I started touring with Uncle Ray Kane, Keola Beamer, Led Kaapana, Dennis Kamakahi and Cyril Pahinui, Al & Elisabeth would drive all the way down from Napa to watch us play at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, Yoshi’s in Oakland or The Holiday Inn in Chinatown, or the Great American Music Hall and Slims in San Francisco.

A couple of times my son Keoki and I even stayed at their home in Silverado in Napa and got to experience the cold waters of their swimming pool. We’d go to Safeway to pick up left over vegetables, carrots, cabbages, and less than fresh produce to feed to their friendly feral deer. My son Keoki and I were constantly tempted to catch their deer and have a BBQ but we respected their relationship with their deer friends.

What I liked about Al and Elisabeth is that over a period of over 40 years, they loved not only our families and lifestyle, they also loved our music. They bought our music when it was on 8 track, 45’s, vinyl LPs and CDs and upgraded to the appropriate technology to go along with our music. They also were genuinely interested in us as Hawaiian people, our Hawaiian culture and our families and lifestyle. In 1994, we even wrote a song about “Jojo”, a famous wild orphan dolphin Al “met” in Aruba who would remember them every time they returned and would swim with Al whenever they returned to Aruba.

Anyway, mahalo Akua for over 40 years of friendship with Al and Elisabeth Achilles and mahalo for blessing us with their Aloha and sharing all those years of Prime Rib dinners! We truly miss you both and especially at our upcoming performances at Blue Note at the Napa Valley Opera House.