Five Questions with…Hector Venegas

by Rick Hamada, ESH Community Relations Director

Welcome to our inaugural edition of “Five Questions with….”- a new feature that will focus in the people and personalities of Easter Seals Hawaii. We are blessed to begin our series with a gentleman who has served our community well in so many ways, but who also shares a remarkable story of faith, hope and comfort as a member of our Easter Seals Hawaii ohana. You may already know of Hector from a wonderful song that has become synonymous with Hawaii. You can take a listen here. But, for now, please, enjoy our “Five Questions with… Mr. Hector Venegas.”

Hector, can you tell us a little about yourself, where are you originally from?
Rick, I was born in Mexico 1939, lived there till 1956, when I moved to Kansas City Missouri, where I graduated from South East High School, attended Kansas City Junior College for one year and transferred to University of Hawaii in 1961, and have resided in Hawaii since.

Who were your parents and please share some thoughts about them?

My father, Jose Hernandez, now deceased was a Promotor, Business Entrepreneur, who I respected but parted ways with at a very early age! My Mother, Alicia Venegas Lopez, now 94 and living in Chicago, Illinois, was my role model and guiding light in my formative years.

You have such a cosmopolitan, professional background. Can you tell us about it?

  • 2006, I retired from the working force, but my career spanned started in 1961, while attending the University of Hawaii.
  • 1961, I was in the Food and Beverage Department of the Hilton Hawaiian Village as: Waiter, Restaurants and Bar Manager.
  • 1963, I left the hospitality industry, to go in the Phonograph Record Distribution with various local companies as: Salesman, Sales Manager, Marketing and Promotion Manager.
    1970, I Moved to the Advertising industry as: Account Representative, Advertising Agency Manager.
  • 1973, I formed and owned KristAnn Advertising
  • 1976, I started Hector Venegas Enterprises, it dealt with promotions and marketing of entertainment, fashion, restaurants, etc.
  • 1984, I became a consultant to the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii’s Military Affairs Council, a non-profit group working on behalf of the defense industry as a liaison element bridging the military and civilian communities, in Hawaii.  A few years later, I became the Director and provided services to the private sector by assisting them with marketing their sales of goods and services to Hawaii based Department of Defense contracting offices in Hawaii.  I also implemented special events such as military appreciation programs, and lobbied for military funding, to be spent in Hawaii, at national levels, including the Pentagon and Washington D.C.
  • 1997, I reactivated my marketing, public relations, and promotions firm; by assisting Hawaii’s small businesses with the potential and desire to sell their goods and services to local government offices: counties, state, federal. My mission was to help small businesses, suppliers, contractors, and vendors who want to learn the fundamentals of Government contracting. The workshops took them step-by-step through the language, key players, and procedures of doing business with the government, and provide attendees information, which can be applied immediately to government contracting.  Subjects ranged from the Basics of Contracting, to fundamentals or advanced Electronic Commerce/Electronic Data Interchange, etc.

You are responsible for one of the most iconic songs in all of Hawaii. Tell us about the inspiration and process in writing “Hawaiian Lullaby.”

My second daughter Krista was born in May of 1970, at seven weeks old, she caught a cold and from that contracted Bacterial Meningitis and faced death. She was in intensive care for several weeks at the Old Children’s Hospital and slowly began to recover, but as result of the illness and multiple seizures, we were told that she suffered mild brain damaged. For me, this situation became extremely difficult and mentally challenging ao deal with.  In writing, I implored my maker not to take her, for she had not seen this world, nor had she sinned.  After intensive and tedious help from caring doctors, and neurologist; she survived.  A year later, when things subsided, I visited my early writings, and changed the negative language to a positive, it was self-healing.  At the time, I was an agent for Mr. Peter Moon.  When he read the prose, he wanted to write music to it and change the title from “Manoa Lullaby” to “Hawaiian Lullaby”, I said yes and the rest is history.

Hawaiian Lullaby performed by the Makaha Sons

How did your relationship with Easter Seals Hawaii begin and what is your involvement today?

After two eye operations and multiple medical visits, Krista grew up happily a mild challenged person. She attended Special Education classes at Liliuokalani and Wilson elementary schools, Kaimuki Middle School and graduated from Kaimuki High School.
While attending high school my wife Sharon, who has always been behind Krista’s life every step of the way, learned about Easter Seals. Krista initially came to Easter Seals as a participant in the after school summer programs.  Ms. Linda Guess, who was running the youth services program, liked Krista and when she graduated from high school, created a job for her.  She has been with Easter Seals well over 20 years now.  Easter Seals is Krista’s life, she lives and breathes Easter Seals and can hardly wait to go to work every day. Our family is very happy with that.

Hector, what does Easter Seals Hawaii meant o you and what message would you like to share with the rest of our community?

Easter Seals has given our family hope, faith that is priceless!

When we are faced with harsh reality and life look dismal, prayer and the help from our friends, we will help us get through.

Thank you, Hector, for taking the time to tell us about your story and to highlight the wonderful accomplishments of your daughter, Krista. We’ll have another edition of “Five Questions with….” before you know it. If there is someone on the Easter Seals Team or someone who is part of the ESH Ohana, please let me know. I can be reached via email at RHamada@eastersealshawaii.org .