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.
“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.
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.