A former Laie Hawaii Temple president, longtime Polynesian Cultural Center employee and historian, and a beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend, Tausilinu’u David Hannemann, known to many as “Uncle David,” was honored at his funeral services on Oct. 20 held in the Laie Hawaii Stake Center. The chapel and cultural hall were filled with attendees. He passed away on Oct. 9, 2018 at the age of 92.
His wife and eternal companion, Carolyn, a well-known organist, played the opening hymn, “I Stand All Amazed,” at his service and several of their 11 children shared memories of their father both spiritual and humorous.
His daughter, Vi Fardig, remarked, “My father lived by three L’s: Labor, love, and letters. He worked harder than any man I’ve ever known in my life. He loved the gospel and the people in it. He always bore his testimony of Jesus Christ to me, and he would always express his trust that he had in me, and his gratitude for the choices I was making in my life. My father would shower me with love and many kisses and embraces. I’m grateful for always being able to live by his three L’s. Labor, love and letters. He’d often share letters with me, and I am forever grateful for those.”
His son, Howard Hannemann, shared a letter his father had written to him when he was serving his mission in Argentina. It read, “My dearest beloved missionary son, Elder Howard B. Hannemann. Son, I like to address you as my dearest beloved. It reminds me of how our Father in Heaven introduced our elder brother and Savior to the boy prophet-to-be, Joseph Smith. Every time I write that phrase, it seems to strengthen our relationship of father and son, patterned after that first relationship of father and son originated by God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ.”
Howard continued by telling how when he was young, his father woke him up one morning and asked him to come collect some cans and newspapers. “In the morning,” Howard said, “we were in a dumpster, and I found a $50 bill. Do you know how many cans and newspapers that is? I heard Dad say, ‘Great! Let’s bring it to the front desk and tell them we found a $50 bill!’”
They took it to the front desk and asked them to contact them if anyone ever claimed it. He said about three weeks later, he received a letter in the mail from a couple who were on their honeymoon and had lost a $50 bill. They sent him $10 as a reward.
Other family members also spoke including Uncle David’s nephew, Muliufi Hannemann, the former major of Honolulu. He presented the family with a framed document from the Honolulu City Council and signed by all the council members. He said it honored Uncle David for all he did during his lifetime.
Longtime friend and former PCC President Lester Moore also spoke at Hannemann’s service. He said David had asked him to speak at his funeral years ago and renewed that request over the years. Moore told stories of racing against Hannemann in their PCC carts. Hannemann beat him one time after getting the PCC maintenance crew to rev up his cart. Moore said he found out about it and got the crew to increase his cart’s power and decrease Hannemann’s cart, and Moore said David didn’t beat him again.
Moore also talked about traveling with Hannemann to China on PCC business and how impressed he was with the friendship Hannemann had built with Chinese officials. Moore added one of the most spiritual experiences of his life happened with Hannemann in Tiananman Square in Beijing. He said the two of them found themselves in a grove of trees in the complex, which Moore said was the same place Elders David O. McKay and Hugh J. Cannon had dedicated the nation in 1921 for the preaching of the gospel and then 58 years later Elder James E. Faust rededicated it in that same place.
Hannemann was born in Western Samoa in 1926 and was the youngest of 10 siblings. He left Samoa in 1946 to travel to Hawaii, later serving a mission in the islands on Molokai, becoming the first Samoan to serve outside his native land. He was married Carolyn in 1957 in the Los Angeles Temple and together they raised their family. Hannemann was notable as the first-paid employee of the PCC, and speakers at his funeral said he was well-loved and respected by all who knew him.
While reminiscing about miracles that happened at the PCC over the years, Delsa Moe, the vice president of Cultural Presentations, said, “When we had the opening of the Tongan village, the forecast was calling for it to rain. The entire grand opening was being held outdoors, and we just couldn’t afford to have it rain. We had the King and Queen of Tonga coming. If it showered, we would be ruined.”
She continued, “So naturally, I asked Uncle David and said, ‘Uncle David, I have an assignment for you.’ I said, ‘I need to be sure it does not rain for the grand opening.’ All he asked was if that was all. No hesitation at all. He would get it done. Uncle David always kept his word.
“I asked, ‘Can you make sure that it’s overcast? Could you ask the Lord to please hold the rain and make it overcast?’ Well, it happened exactly the way I had asked for it, because when Uncle David said something would happen, it happened.”
Moore said Hannemann had his own private place, his own sacred grove, on the grounds of the PCC where he would go to pray. Moe joked Hannemann was the center’s weatherman.
Hannemann’s funeral program included the passage from Moroni 7:46-47. “Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all. Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.”
One of Hannemann’s favorite poems, “I’d Rather See a Sermon” by Edward A. Guest, reads,
“I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear;
And the best of all preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it if you'll let me see it done;
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I'd rather get my lessons by observing what you do;
For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there's no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.”