First Circuit District Judge and former University of Hawaiʻi Vice President and General Counsel Darolyn Lendio Heim died on December 8, 2022. Editor’s note: Services are scheduled for December 30, 2022 at Borthwick Mortuary. Visitation begins at 4 p.m. Service is at 5 p.m. The family requests no flowers, and donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association–Hawaii (677 Ala Moana Boulevard, #301, Honolulu, HI 96813) with a note in the memo “In Memory of Darolyn Lendio Heim.”
“We are devastated by the loss of Judge Lendio Heim. She was an outstanding judge who made a lasting impact on our community, and a wonderful friend and colleague,” said Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald in a statement.
“I am greatly saddened to learn of Darolyn Lendio’s untimely passing,” said UH President Emeritus David McClain, who hired her in 2006. “As vice president and general counsel of UH, Darolyn was an assertive and successful advocate for the university and the many constituencies it serves, in particular Native Hawaiians. Her professionalism, compassion and unshakeable integrity increased respect for UH in the community, in the three branches of state government, and among her fellow attorneys locally.”
According to the judiciary, Lendio Heim’s legal career included working as a partner with the law firm of McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon LLP, as director of the Department of Corporation Counsel for the City and County of Honolulu, and as an associate at Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel.
She is credited by the judiciary with playing a key role in implementing a mediation program that helped tenants on Oʻahu who were facing eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic and convening Community Outreach Court in the Waiʻanae Public Library and other locations close to where the participants lived, and sitting at a folding table across from them to discuss their cases.
UH President David Lassner said, “I was shocked and saddened to hear of the loss of Darolyn, who was always so full of life. She was a wonderful colleague when I was a vice president and provided wise counsel on many challenging issues when I became president. While a proud Trojan at heart, she served UH with dedication and passion. Her commitment to public service permeated all that she did. And while her tenure was cut so tragically short, becoming a judge was a professional dream fulfilled. My deepest condolences to her husband, sons and entire family, who were so important to her.”
“Darolyn had deep roots in our community, and these relationships, combined with a razor-sharp intellect, tireless work ethic, wry sense of humor and superb sense of strategy made her an extraordinarily effective leader,” said McClain. “She was a delight to work with, and raised the morale and performance of those of us who were privileged to be her colleagues. Hawaiʻi has lost one of its most ardent advocates for a more just society.”
Deep local roots
Lendio Heim loved her family and had an active social media presence. She would post about milestones and updates about her husband Ronald Heim and sons, Cade Brittain and Alex Heim. She would also post about her parents and siblings. Her sister Lori Lendio McKeown recalled growing up in Waialua together with their brothers Terence and Ross, and playing in the irrigation ditch near their home.
“I wanted to be just like Darolyn, confident, ambitious, intelligent and social. She was so involved with everything and everyone. Looking back, so much of my life has panned out the way it has because of her influence,” said Lendio McKeown. “Darolyn has touched so many lives and has made such a positive difference in not just the lives of her family, but in the lives of those in her community. She was a strong advocate for women, minorities, and believed in equality for all. Martin Luther King Jr. was also an inspiration for her. She truly believed that people chose their own path and that anything was possible with determination. She posted (the Martin Luther King Jr. quote), ‘If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.’”
Lendio Heim was an avid “football mom” as her sons played for Punahou and Mid Pacific Institute and later Lake Forest College in Illinois, where Alex just finished his third season. She had a broad network of fellow boosters at all of those institutions.
Her sister said Lendio Heim would post her favorite Winnie the Pooh quote whenever her sons left for college: “If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”