HONOLULU - Nona Beamer, a noted authority on Hawaiian culture and a matriarch of the musical Beamer family, has died. She was 84.
Ms. Beamer, a songwriter, performer, hula teacher, and author, died peacefully in her sleep Thursday at her home on Maui, said Mark Nelson, administrator of Aloha Music Camp, which Ms. Beamer founded and operated with her son, Keola, a Grammy-nominated slack-key guitar artist.
Ailing in recent years, Ms. Beamer remained active and last performed with her family at the music camp in February.
"In her own very humble, gracious, and truly remarkable way, Aunty Nona was not only a pioneer, ali'i, musician and humanitarian, she truly is the embodiment of aloha," Nelson said.
Ms. Winona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha Beamer was born in Honolulu and raised in Napo'opo'o in South Kona on the Big Island.
She was of Hawaiian, German, French, Scottish, and Swedish ancestry. Her Hawaiian name is an ancestral name that comes from Princess Manono and means precious flower.
Ms. Beamer attended Colorado Women's College, Barnard College, and Columbia University. In New York, Ms. Beamer met Eleanor Roosevelt when her husband was in the White House, and upon returning to Hawaii, took charge of Roosevelt's program to provide emergency food in all school cafeterias.
In 1949, Ms. Beamer began teaching Hawaiian culture at the Kamehameha Schools, and remained there for nearly 40 years. She also took over her mother's hula studio and taught hula in Waikiki for 30 years.