‘Iolani coach and musician Ching dies

Bernie Ching, left, was a member of The Surfers. Courtesy photo.

Bernie Ching, who served as an ‘Iolani coach for 48 years, died Friday morning at Queen’s Medical Center surrounded by his family and close friends, according to a letter sent by head of school Timothy Cottrell to his staff.

Ching, who was born Jan. 16, 1939, was 79.

Ching coached girls and boys basketball, football and paddling, and he also served as a security guard at the school for 38 years.

The ‘Iolani community will miss Bernie Ching, who spent 48 years as a coach at the school. Ching, 79, died Friday at Queen’s Medical Center. Courtesy photo

“Bernie was known for his warmth, big smile, and genuine aloha for others,” Cottrell wrote in his letter. “He was always willing to lend a hand to someone in need, whether it be escorting a visitor to precisely the right spot on campus or taking families new to Hawaii surfing or canoeing off Waikiki so that they could experience our beautiful ocean and culture first-hand. When my own family first arrived to ‘Iolani, we were among those lucky enough to have shared time with Bernie at the beach.”

Ching coached ‘Iolani’s girls basketball teams to three Interscholastic League of Honolulu championships (1989, 1995 and 1996), three state championships (1989, 1995 and 1996) and three state runner-up finishes (1990, 1993, 1994). He was also a boys basketball assistant under Mark Mugiishi during the Raiders’ run of state titles in the early 2000s. Mugiishi, incidentally, was an assistant under Ching at St. Andrew’s Priory early in Ching’s coaching career.

“If he wasn’t coaching, he was on the sidelines cheering on the Raiders or attending his grandchildren’s sporting events,” Cottrell wrote.

Bernie Ching, second from left, recorded with Elvis Presley on “Blue Hawaii.” Courtesy photo.

One of his granddaughters was Moea Kekauoha, a 2016 graduate who was an All-State volleyball player for ‘Iolani.

Ching was also a musician with The Surfers, who recorded the album “Blue Hawaii” with Elvis Presley, and it became a gold record. He sang, played the guitar, ukulele, bass and drums.

Ching is survived by four daughters — Lisa Ching, Rona Kekauoha, Kehau Panoke and Beth Ann Shizuru, 15 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Services are pending.


  1. Red Raider for Life April 6, 2018 10:43 pm

    Thank you Coach for all you taught us

  2. Chic April 7, 2018 8:03 am

    We lost a great man. He will be missed by all who knew him. RIP Bernie.

  3. Patti Igawa April 7, 2018 4:10 pm

    Mahalo piha, Bernie, for all your love and for being my dearest cousin. Ahui Hou until we are together again in our Precious Ke Akua’s Heavenly Kingdom. Love you forevermore!!!

  4. Nicholas Hayes May 21, 2018 12:49 pm

    Bernie Ching was a wonderful and good-spirited man, and was loved by everyone. When he passed away, it felt like my heart was about to shatter into a million pieces. Bernie was an amazing father, grandfather, great-grandfather, son, grandson, friend, husband, beachboy, and a singer. We will surely miss you Papa! I love you!

  5. Bronson Melemai August 19, 2021 9:34 pm

    Thank you for being there. Thank you thank you thank you.

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