Veteran Lawmaker Ron Menor Will Be Missed and Remembered

Hawaii’s Filipino community is mourning the loss and celebrating the life of Ron Menor who dedicated his working life to public service over the course of four decades as a state senator, state representative, Honolulu City Council member (and chair), and attorney.

Menor, 67, died on January 16, 2023 from an unexpected medical emergency, according to his family.

Menor’s passing is a major loss for our community who looked to him as a leader, a friend, a community advocate. He was a fixture at many of our community events for decades, happily attending and sharing his pride and appreciation for our Filipino culture and history. He would listen to our concerns and needs. And act on improving those concerns and needs.

In a way, like other Filipino leaders of his generation, Ron was our community’s security blanket in our community’s early period of political maturation. That sense of security Ron provided for us was that we felt we had an insider in the upper echelons of Hawaii’s political structure who would be protecting our interests and working to help make our lives better.

In our community, Ron and his father the late Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Menor (the first Filipino in the U.S. to serve as a state supreme court justice) and former state senator himself, was a kind of Kennedy-like family. Accomplished. Smart. Passionate and dedicated to community service. Influential. Respected. Humble. Sources of pride for our community.

Ron was a leader in what our community in Hawaii could be considered the second generation of Filipinos in public office making a difference. To name a few in this group are former Gov. Ben Cayetano, former state Senate President Ron Bunda, former state senator and former Circuit Judge Rey Graulty, former Associate Justice of the Hawaii State Supreme Court Simeon Acoba Jr.

Ron’s father Benjamin was the first generation of pioneering Filipinos of Hawaii, along with to name a few, Peter Aduja, the first FilAm elected to public office in the US., Alfred Laureta, the first federal judge of Filipino ancestry in the U.S., Eduardo Malapit, mayor of Kauai, the first Filipino American mayor of any United States municipality.

Ron’s passing is heartfelt to our community because he represented that second generation of Filipino powerbrokers now either deceased or in their sunset years. Our community was saddened when Ron lost his election to Congress because many of us felt he was more than qualified, and we rallied for that historical marker of a first Hawaii congressman of Filipino ancestry.

Statements Issued on Ron
As expected in the last few days many Hawaii leaders have expressed statements of condolences to the Menor family and made gracious remarks of tribute.

Newly installed Governor Josh Green, M.D has ordered that the U.S. flag and Hawaii state flag be flown at half-staff at the Hawaii State Capitol and offices and agencies as well as the Hawaii National guard in the State.

Gov Green said, “Ron was a dedicated public servant, winning re-election after re-election for many years, showing how much his constituents appreciated his work on their behalf.”

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi also issued a statement: “I was surprised and saddened to learn this evening of the sudden passing of former Honolulu City Council Chair Ron Menor. A valiant public servant who served in both City and State government, Ron was a tireless leader who championed for his community and had an incredible impact on our City. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his public service.

“On behalf of a grateful and admiring community, I extend condolences and prayers to his wife Patricia and children Benjamin, Andrew and Anthony.”

Former state senator and colleague Will Espero said “He [Ron] was committed to making Hawaii a better place for everybody. This is a big loss for Hawaii.”

Another of Ron’s colleague, former State Senate President Robert Bunda, said “He [Ron] knew how to be a good servant to the public,” he said. “He was a natural.”

Friend to Filipino Media
Ron was also a friend and supporter to Hawaii Filipino media, including the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle.

In every campaign, Ron worked with our staff to get his message, plans and platform to our readers either by interview or responding to our Q&A.

Ron’s cousin, Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, who the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle also has worked with to disseminate information, said of Ron, “He always made his decisions from his heart and with a collaborative approach that made things work.

“My cousin, Ron, was truly dedicated to public service and wanted nothing more than to make Hawaii a better place to live. He inspired my pursuit of public office because of his unwavering passion for serving others. He was someone I looked up to since I was a little kid. He will be sorely missed by his family, friends and the many people he represented so well,” she said.

Besides Menor-McNamara, we’re certain that Ron was a source of inspiration to many young leaders of today.

Menor began his career as a law clerk for the Hawaii Supreme Court.

He graduated from Iolani school, receive his bachelor’s degree at UCLA, before earning his law degree at Georgetown University.

Ron will be missed and remembered.

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