A longtime campus filmmaker and BYU–Hawaii retiree Glenn Alan Gee Keong Kau was remembered at his memorial service on May 2 by family and friends for his notorious dry wit, his love of films and filmmaking, his love of good food, but mostly for his love for his ohana and the people he interacted with over the 30-plus years he worked at the university.
“Glenn had a dry sense of humor,” said his sister, Laurie Maw, at his memorial service in Kanoehe at the Hawaiian Memorial Park chapel. The definition of a dry sense of humor, she said, is a form of comedic delivery where something humorous is said or done by a person with a calm expression or no change in emotion or facial expression. She said Glenn was a master at it.
“Glenn also loved food,” Maw said, “and always knew the best places to eat.” He regularly would take photos of food he ate and post them on his social media.
She said Kau was personally neat, tidy and clean, quiet but not shy, kind and sensitive, but a person who guarded his privacy.
She also talked about his love of photography that included capturing beautiful sunsets, iconic photos of the Laie Hawaii Temple, and nature in general adding his favorite flower was the bird of paradise. “But his favorite thing to shoot are his grandchildren,” she said.
Kau is survived by his daughter, Jaymie Frost, her husband, Elijah, and their daughters, Bella and Emma; his son, Adam Kau, his wife, Stephanie, and their daughter, Kirra, and son, Logan; and other extended family members.
Adam Kau said at the service, “There was nothing as important as his grandchildren.” He told about when Logan was born, he asked his dad if he would be willing to babysit the newborn. “He was hesitant at first but agreed to help us out,” Adam Kau said. But his dad quickly became comfortable taking care of Logan, he said, and looked forward to doing it.
Adam Kau said he admired his dad because of his patience as a father and grandfather who “didn’t raise his voice” or yell and was never mean. “I looked up to my dad,” he said. “He was a good example for me of how to be a parent.”
Kau passed away on March 28, 2022, at the age of 72. Jaymie Frost said while he had beaten two rounds of cancer, he wasn’t able to beat a third round.
Speaking at the service, Adam Kau called his dad a fighter doing all he could to improve and maintain his health. “We feel he was taken away too soon, but we are grateful for the time he spent with us,” he said.
Maw commented that with his passing, her brother was no longer in pain, was reunited with his Savior, Jesus Christ, and loved ones who had passed before him including their parents, two brothers and more.
Born in Honolulu on Sept. 26, 1949, Kau served a Church mission in Hong Kong, graduated with a bachelor’s degree from BYU in Provo, worked at the former Osmond Studio in Orem before returning to Oahu and working at BYUH doing sound and lighting in the McKay Auditorium and the Cannon Activities Center.
Maw also talked about her brother’s life-long love of film making and how her children said part of the joy of Christmastime was waiting for VHS tapes of Kau’s latest movies to arrive in the mail. She said her children felt like watching the films helped bridge the geographic distance between them on the mainland and their family in Hawaii. They especially loved when Glenn would have a cameo appearance in his own films, she said.
Family members and friends said he loved talking about films and film making and connected with people through that shared passion.
Also speaking at the service was longtime friend and BYUH alumnus Robert Jolley who said when he and Glenn Kau first met, they became friends quickly after a 35-minute talk about film making and life. “I loved him as a brother from the day we met. He is one of my best friends,” Jolley said.
“Glenn’s superpower was he gave people a voice and helped them find their purpose.” He added, “We all learned something from Glenn. He helped us grow up, find our self-expression and develop our talents.”
Jolley said he works in the television and film industry, and whenever anyone asks him how he got into the business, he tells them about his friend in Hawaii who taught him about creating interesting characters, the art of storytelling, and to “always stick to the script.”
When Glenn Kau’s passing was posted on Facebook, BYUH students and friends from across the years of him working on campus commented on the impact he made on their lives. People also posted comments and memories about him on dignitymemorial.com.
Alumna Brandy Young says she met her husband, Jonathan, when Kau cast them in the campus-made movie “Dear Jane.” “I will forever be grateful for the fun experience of being part of a Glenn Kau movie.… Glenn was kind and patient as he tried to coach and direct college students (who really didn't have any experience filming a movie). His movies were famous at BYUH, and it was a tradition to go see the latest one each semester. He was an amazing photographer who ended up taking our family pics when we returned to Oahu in 2012.” She adds, “I truly appreciate the opportunities he gave to so many students. He had a positive impact on many lives. “
Alumna Krystalee Hazard Archibald wrote, “My oldest brother and I worked with him in the light booth for events. It was a unique job that was pretty fun. He was a great mentor.”
Alumna Kawehi Garside Stant says she too worked with Kau as his student secretary for the then Sound & Stage Department. She says she worked behind the scenes in the auditorium and the CAC on events and productions. “Glenn, thank you from the bottom of my heart for making some of the most memorable moments in my life. I have made life-long friends because of the job and many opportunities you gave me,” she says. “I don't think you realize how many people love [you] and will miss you dearly.
Alumni Cassie Chen, Dustin Geddes, Rachel Au Ieong and Michael Crowe all commented that being in Kau’s films was a big part of their BYUH experience. Crowe says he went on to go to New York to get an master’s degree in fine arts from the Actors Studio Drama School.
Alumna Lynnelle Salanoa Pugmire says of Kau, “You were so talented, kind, thoughtful and knew how to cheer me up. I’ve never seen you upset or angry. You were so easy going and such a gentleman. I’ve been lucky to have such a friend. I have lots of great memories of you. You made college so fun for me and many students. You coaxed me into acting in one of your movies, even though I was a horrible actress.”
Karma Hackney says she “used to call him Glenn Spielberg and Glenn Hitchcock” and also loved his photos of the Laie Hawaii Temple and local flowers.
Alumna Jolene Kanahele Keliilki says, “He was a great friend and mentor when I got into photography. We always had a blast because, to be honest, this guy had the driest sense of humor. It was hilarious! He loved filmography and photography and shared many tips freely with those who wanted to learn.”
Alumnus Richie Norton calls Kau a “total legend; loved him so much. Grateful for his awesome films too and how he made every event run like magic. Such a light. You’ll be missed Glenn Kau.”
BYUH Assistant Professor and Archivist Gailyn Bopp said she also was in Kau’s movies and that he had a way of treating people making “them feel special, and loved and like they had a real, true friend who would help them with anything.”
Jaymie Frost said the family will be donating some of her dad’s films to the BYUH Archives.