HONOLULU — Former Hawaii Lt. Gov. Jean Sadako McKillop King died on Sunday at the age of 87, The Star-Advertiser reports.
King’s sister-in-law Ethel McKillop told the newspaper that King had been ill for at least a month and had been under the care of hospice workers and her grandchildren.
Born and raised in Hawaii, King held Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees from the University of Hawaii and a Master of Arts from New York University. She served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1972 to 1974 and the Hawaii Senate from 1974 to 1978, chairing the Environmental Protection Committee in both chambers.
King was the state’s sixth lieutenant governor from 1978 to 1982, serving under Gov. George Ariyoshi. In 1982, she ran for governor, lost to Ariyoshi in the Democratic primary, and retired from politics.
More recently, she served on the board of Honolulu Community Media Council (later Media Council Hawaii) and of Interfaith Alliance Hawaii, whose goal is “promoting the positive healing role of religion in public life by encouraging dialogue, challenging extremism, and facilitating nonviolent community activism.”
“As the first woman elected to be lieutenant governor of Hawaii, Jean was a true pioneer,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “I fondly remember and value the time we served together in the State Legislature. Throughout the years, she remained a steadfast advocate for peace and the environment, unwavering in her recognition of our responsibility as stewards of Hawaii’s natural resources.”
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Jean King, a trailblazer in the history of Hawaii politics,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). “As the first female elected to the office of lieutenant governor, Jean helped pave the way for women, such as myself. Jean was a respected voice who advocated for affordable housing, the environment and open government.
“Jean held very progressive views and she remained active in Democratic politics well past her years in elected office. We would spend time together at precinct meetings and state Democratic conventions where she continued to express her strong views and concerns on the issues of the day.
“I join the people of Hawaii in mourning the passing of this respected leader.”
“I am sorry to hear of the passing of Jean Sadako King, who was a committed voice for the people of Hawaii,” said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii). “Throughout her service in the State Legislature and as Hawaii’s first female lieutenant governor, she was a role model for women seeking a stronger voice in government, and for all who believed there was more we could do.
“Her sacrifice and service were an inspiration to people like me who envisioned a role in government, and her courage made it possible for another generation of women to aspire to leadership and to help others as she helped us.”