Myron B. Thompson
On Friday, September 19, 2008, the Board of Regents unanimously approved the naming of the School The Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. Also in support were his wife, Laura Thompson, his daughter Lita Blankenfeld, his sons Myron and Nainoa, U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kamehameha Schools, Papa Ola Lokahi, the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, and the National Association of Social Workers.
Myron “Pinky” Thompson is to Hawaiʻi’s social work profession as Jane Addams is to Western social work. After receiving his MSW from UH in 1953, he went on to become a noted humanitarian and leader in the struggle for the preservation of the Hawaiian culture. His work spans across more than three decades.
From 1962 to 1967, he was the executive director of the Queen Liliʻuokalani Children’s Trust. During this time, the workers, including alums Lynette and Likeke Paglinawan and Masaru Oshiro, noticed that some of the classic social work practices they were trained in did not work with many of their Native Hawaiian clientele. In response to this, and in the face of resistance, they developed what came to be called “the culture committee.” The committee presented and discussed cases with Kumu Mary Kawena Pukuʻi. Many indigenous practices were revived, including hoʻoponopono and dream interpretation. These consultations resulted in the classic two-volume publication of Nana I Ke Kumu, still in use today.
In 1975, he helped start Alu Like, Inc. to obtain federal funding for Native Hawaiians in job training, health, housing, education, and Native Hawaiian rights. He is also credited with the creation of Papa Ola Lokahi, a clearinghouse for data and information associated with the health status of Native Hawaiians. Aside from other positions, he was the first chairman of the State Land Use Commission and served as a key advisor on matters of Hawaiian affairs in the John A. Burns administration.
For two decades, he served as a trustee for the Bishop Estate. During his tenure, he placed an emphasis on developing parental skills and early intervention as strategies for improving learning outcomes. His son, Nainoa Thompson, now serves as a trustee.
He served as president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and in 1979, was the navigator of the voyaging canoe Hokuleʻa as it retraced ancestral migration patterns in the Pacific using ancient Polynesian methods of way finding, or, navigation. This role was passed on to his son, Nainoa Thompson, who continues to be the master navigator.
Thompson has been described as wise, compassionate, a lover of music, full of life and laughter, a warrior against social injustice, and never satisfied with the status quo or the status of Native Hawaiians. He passed away on Christmas Day in 2001.
Faculty and staff are humbled and honored to carry Thompson’s name and will do our best to represent his legacy, his character, and his noble causes.