19-4074 Old Volcano Rd
Volcano, HI 96785
Stories of growing up in Hawai’i are especially memorable when told by an adventurous boy whose life took many twists and turns as he grew to be one of the Big Island’s most prominent citizens. Fred Koehnen has transformed a lifetime of memories into a new memoir, entitled “Been There Done That Back to Hilo – a Nine Decade Odyssey”, and in so doing has now added the word ‘author’ to his long list of accomplishments.
While still in his teens, Koehnen was shipwrecked off the coast of El Salvador. He was in Berlin for the 1936 Olympic Games when Jesse Owens won the 100-meter dash, and witnessed the gold-medalist being denied his medal by Hitler. He was also present at Iolani Palace on December 7, 1941, when martial law was declared after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He saw first-hand the devastation caused by the 1946 tsunami that hit Hilo. He watched Jack Nicklaus win the first Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, and he was invited to the White House to meet President Nixon. Closer to home, he served on the first Charter Commission for the County of Hawai’i. Koehnen has always taken advantage of opportunities, travelling all over the world, but always returning to Hilo. Over the past ninety years these opportunities have led him to try everything from cowboying to woodworking, retail business to government service, being a securities broker to military service during two wars. He has hunted, hiked, fished, and ridden horseback over nearly all of the Big Island, and been a keen observer of changes over the decades.
Koehnen has especially close ties to Volcano and Ka’u. His family summered in Volcano to escape the heat and humidity of Hilo. From the time he was five years old until his early teens he would ride his horse up at the beginning of the summer, and back down in the fall. Later on, he signed on as a cowboy at Kapapala Ranch, where his duties included everything from rounding up stray cattle to maintaining the water flumes above Wood Valley. His extensive community volunteerism included serving on the Board of the Volcano Art Center, and being race director for the Kilauea Volcano Wilderness Runs. He still comes to Volcano at least once a week to play golf.
The author promises to bring some his most memorable and colorful stories off of the page and back to life in a talk-story evening on Thursday, December 3 in Volcano. The Volcano Community Foundation, in cooperation with the Volcano Art Center, will host this event at the Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village at 7pm. This event is free and open to all. Books will be available for sale for $20, with the author available to sign them after the program.