HONOLULU (AP) – Thelma Kaualulehuaoaiku Sproat Bugbee, the songwriter known as “Auntie Thelma” who also was one of the few remaining “manaleo,” or native speakers of Hawaiian, died July 26, family members said. She was 93.

A retired teacher and social worker, Bugbee co-wrote songs with her close friend, the late “Auntie” Irmgard Aluli. Those songs included “Hana No E Ka ‘Oi” and “Ka Waimea Swing.”

Months before she died in October 2001, Aluli wrote her last composition in Bugbee’s honor.

Bugbee’s love of her heritage showed through in her oral histories and in interviews she gave for documentaries about Hawaiian culture, said her daughter, L. Puaala Fisher.

Bugbee was a member of Ahahui Olelo Hawaii, the Hawaiian language professional organization, and also pioneered an early form of what became the Hawaiian studies program.

Her career also included stints as head of psychiatric social work at what was then the territorial mental hospital and teaching at Waimanalo Elementary and Intermediate School.

She also was active with the fledgling Democratic Party of Hawaii 50 years ago and as a legislative liaison for the teachers’ union.


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