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Junior Ah You’s parents example and his love for community of Laie led him to life of service

Junior and Almira Ah You pose in traditional Polynesian clothing with black background.
Photo by Mapuana Reed Photography

As a young boy, Junior Ah You moved from a small village in Samoa to the town of Laie, Hawaii.  His parents had sold all of their worldly possessions in order to bring their family to Hawaii to be sealed in the temple.  It was his parent’s example of dedication to God, community, and family he said that led to Junior Ah You’s life of selfless service.  

Junior Ah You said, “I come from a family that loves and serves the Lord. I grew up watching my mom and dad give so freely to help the people and the Church.”

Throughout his life, Junior Ah You has acquired a list of achievements, which includes an outstanding football career. He has been inducted into hall of fames including Arizona State University Hula Bowl, Canadian Football, and the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. 

Outside of football, he is the longest standing Laie Community Association officer, where he has dedicated years in unifying the community through the establishment of over 25 years of tradition. Currently, Junior Ah You owns a popular food truck, Tita’s Grill, at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The PCC has been a part of his life for decades, as he performed there as a young boy. 

Despite his impressive accomplishments in his career, perhaps his most cherished achievement is parenting eight children, 38 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild with his beloved wife, Almira.

Junior Ah You’s oldest son, Kinglsey Ah You, said of his father, “It is amazing to me that a boy from a small village in Samoa came here to be sealed in the house of the Lord and was able to find success. He has traveled the world, but Laie has always been home.”

Kinglsey Ah You said even though his father played professional football for 14 years, his dad made sure in his contracts during the off season he and his family could come back home to Laie. Kingsley Ah You said, “He always brought us home because our family was here but also because of his great love of Laie and all it stands for. Most of the time you leave and have your career. Then, when you retire, you come back. But dad made it a clear point to come back often. Laie is a sacred place.”  

Junior and Almira Ah You stand at podium with leis and haku in Almiras hair with a black background.
Photo by Mike Foley

Thanksgiving with the Ah Yous

It was this great love for Laie that inspired Junior Ah You’s establishment of various community traditions. Junior Ah You’s son explained, “For Thanksgiving we have all of the full-time missionaries, the service missionaries at BYU–Hawaii and PCC and all of the homeless. We have a wonderful Thanksgiving all together along with anyone else who doesn’t have a place to eat.”

The Ah You family has been known to feed up to 400 missionaries, homeless and community members. Doing so involves cooking between 200 and 300 turkeys. This event stems back to the small village in Samoa where Junior Ah You’s parents did the same thing for their missionaries.

For 25 years, Junior Ah You has chaired Pioneer Month in Laie. During the month of July, the Laie Community Association, along with anyone who is willing to give of their time, hosts activities ranging from musical firesides, sporting events and movie nights.

Christmas Bowl

The Ah You family, comprised of more than 40 people, stand in matching white and black dress clothes with the Laie Hawaii temple in the background.
Photo by the Ah You family

December 2020 will mark the 30th year of the Junior Ah You Christmas Bowl. Junior Ah You started this tradition when he noticed children in the community started getting into trouble during the Christmas break. So, he started a flag football tournament known as the Christmas Bowl. Every year the tournament has around 400 participants from the community with ages ranging from 3 years old to elderly community members. 

Junior Ah You’s son admitted these events are hard work. He said, “We always put God and community first in our family. It takes sacrifice to serve. It’s usually not convenient. That is what service is. When it’s not convenient, it’s true service. But the rewards are amazing.

“It is the greatest feeling when you feel it’s brought people together.” According to his son, Junior Ah You’s ability to unite people is all a part of Laie’s sacred prophetic purpose to be a place of gathering. 

Junior Ah You said, “Growing up in Laie, there were wonderful people who influenced me.”  He listed local patriarchs and bishops as well as teachers from Kahuku High School who became his friends and mentors. He said, above all, his parents have had the greatest impact on his life and that giving and helping others is what brings him the greatest joy.

Junior Ah You’s legacy of service and love continues on in those of his posterity. His grandson, Quayed Ah You said of his grandfather, “One thing I admire about my papa is his outlook on life. One of the things he always tells us is that the biggest room in the world is the room of improvement.”  

One of the things he always tells us is that the biggest room in the world is the room of improvement.
Quayed Ah You

He said his grandpa turns almost anything into a teaching opportunity, and they as grandchildren always remember the lessons they’ve learned from him. He said, “Now that I’m older, I’ve looked back and realized that a lot of the things he taught me I’ve been able to incorporate into my life.”