Packard Pupi Alisa Toelupe, Sr., dead at 89; remembered as faithful Latter-day Saint

Written by: 
Antoniette Yee

Packard Pupi Alisa Toelupe, Sr., Church College of Hawaii's first director of the Physical Plant when BYU-Hawaii’s campus was dedicated in 1958, passed away on Aug. 26, 2017. Born in American Samoa, he was described by his family and friends at his memorial service on  Sept. 12 as a man of faith and humility who had a great influence on the community.

The chapel was full of people, photos, flowers, and memorabilia of Toelupe. Before proceeding to the burial services, the crowd sang “Aloha ‘Oe.”

Laie Hawaii Stake President Aaron Shumway said, “Pupi loved God and his family. His love for God was such that he knew how to be a great follower. He knew that by focusing on his family, he can show his discipleship.”

Shumway used John 3:16-17 to describe Toelupe’s character. He said, “Think about how this type of faith has reflected on Brother Toelupe. I changed the wording a little bit. ‘For God so loved his family, that he gave his only ‘begotten son,’ that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son for him to condemn his family, but the family through him might be saved.’” Shumway added, “Death cannot separate families who are sealed in the temple.”

The memorial service began with a eulogy given by Ireen Ta’aloga Stone, Pupi’s sister and one of his daughters, Ireen Ka’anapu.

Ka’anapu said Toelupe worked at Zions Security, which is now Hawaii Reserves, Inc., where he did plumbing and maintenance. “He took us kids with him in some of his maintenance jobs. We swept the grounds and there we learned to work.”

According to the obituary, Toelupe was the family “MacGyver” who was always there to fix things around the house or car, and sometimes he would come up with a new way or tool to make things work properly.

Toelupe’s children said he was quite the engineer. Ka’anapu mentioned, “People would think he had several college degrees because of all the skills he had.”

“He knew where every single pipe was laid down in Laie and in the Church College of Hawaii. He was able to tell new companies coming in exactly where and how many feet the pipes were, but some of them didn’t listen. They hit a little further and there goes the water,” Ka’anapu added.

Stone said Toelupe is a perfect example of patience and long-suffering. “His sweet smile and presence blesses other people. Pupi cared for mama and our family so much. I also experienced my brother’s personal care when he would always give me a stylish hairdo.”

Mata’umu Alisa, Toelupe’s brother, said, “I became prideful, selfish, and lost my testimony which never happened to Pupi. He was a faithful and kind man who would always talk to God. He has real love, aloha, and he doesn’t have any bad thoughts in him.”

Ka’anapu shared how Toelupe was a man of God, which he instilled in his children. “He served in the temple probably five-to-six times a week as a sealer,” she said.

According to the obituary, “[Toelupe] was a strong faithful member of the LDS Church  and until his passing, was one of the oldest and the longest serving sealers in the Laie Hawaii Temple.”

Ka’anapu emphasized, “After his sweetheart passed in 2008, he made sure that every single woman knew he was married. He’s just waiting to return to her.” His wife, Peka Bertha Toelupe, was the BYUH Mail Center manager.

Packard Pupi Toelupe, the eldest son of Toelupe, said their dad was well organized. “He got everything recorded like his own Book of Mormon. He would write down dates when a family member was baptized, had a birthday, and when one of his grandchildren is leaving or going back from their mission.”

David Hannemann, Toelupe’s uncle, shared how “ [Toelupe] never smoked or drank any liquor, and it was wonderful. He was self-sustaining.”

According to Kuka Toelupe, one of his daughters, Pupi’s father passed away when Pupi was a teenager. He was the fifth out of 15 children in his family. Kuka said, “He raised his siblings, dropped out of school, and helped his mother. When he would come home with his paycheck, he paid his tithing and gave everything else to his mom.”

Alisa said, “Pupi promised he will wait for all our sisters until they get married, and he did. He continued to be the father to all of us.” Pupi Lama Toelupe, his youngest son, mentioned how his father didn’t get married until he was 42.

Anita Olszowka, Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators’ administrative nurse and a friend of Toelupe, said she feels honored to have known him and to know of his example. With tears in her eyes she said, “He’s such a humble man. He loved everybody unconditionally and he would do anything for anyone. It’s special to be his friend.

“I hope we will all remember him and everything he did for the community. I hope we can all follow his example. We’ve lost a great man, but I’m happy that he can finally be reunited with his wife.”

The obituary says, “[Toelupe] always had a smile on his face and a hug to give to everyone he saw.”

Nii Kinikini, one of Toelupe’s daughters, said, “He had a humor like no other. He was a very spiritual man, but no one would think that he has a funny side. He throws out comments that will just crack us up.”

President John Tanner said Pupi was one of the early pioneers as a labor missionary. “[Toelupe] was here at the founding. I see him as an example of the kind of people who built the university with faith, hard work, and love. We build on their foundations.

He was not only a hard worker, but [also] a faithful Latter-day Saint. He was a positive influence on all around him.”

Date Published: 
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Last Edited: 
Saturday, September 30, 2017