Robert Kekaula, a longtime journalist and sports anchor, musician, and the beloved voice of the Hawaii football program, has passed away. News came down, devastating the many fans of both the Rainbow Warriors, and college football as a whole.
Kekaula started broadcasting Hawaii games in 2011, three years after he graduated from the university’s communications school. For fans on the mainland, Hawaii games were often the last games on TV, kicking off in the early morning on the East Coast. That meant late night football with Kekaula on the call, donning his incredible array of Hawaiian shirts.
“We have heavy hearts this morning as our ohana has lost its mighty wings,” Kekaula’s family released in a statement today, shared by KITV4, where he previously served as managing editor. “Robert Kaleimomi Kekaula passed peacefully at 8:25 a.m. surrounded by his family. He lived his life his own way and was so much to so many people. His heart was full of love for his family, sports, and most of all music.
“Our wings are broken but we will fly again one day. And Robert will fly beside us and continue to guide us along the way. Mahalo to everyone who touched his life along this journey. Aloha Oe to our father, partner, brother, uncle and friend. We ask for privacy as we get through this difficult time.”
— Stephen Tsai (@StephenTsai) June 19, 2021
Members of the college football community have had an outpouring of support for Robert Kekaula, sharing their favorite memories and screenshots from his decade calling those late-night games. Among them is former Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich, now the head coach at Washington State.
Statement from UH Athletics on the passing of longtime sportscaster and @HawaiiFootball announcer Robert Kekaula.
Rest in Aloha, Robert. pic.twitter.com/BKLajMrueb
— Hawaii Athletics (@HawaiiAthletics) June 19, 2021
Gonna miss this Hawaiian. His impact on Hawaii football may never quite be understood or completely appreciated. His friendship I will forever treasure. https://t.co/T8K4CQgAlh
— Nick Rolovich (@NickRolovich) June 19, 2021
Just awful. Unique and passionate voice. Added a spark to those late night broadcasts for everyone tuning it at midnight 5,000 miles away https://t.co/f0YxabEUBX
— Matt Brown (@MattBrownCFB) June 19, 2021
RIP to the King of Late Night pic.twitter.com/ukW8mOfsWS
— PodKATT (@valleyshook) June 19, 2021
— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) June 19, 2021
The only play by play man ever to have his own albums of ukulele songs pic.twitter.com/MX4M8V6da8
— BUM CHILLUPS AKA SPENCER HALL (@edsbs) June 19, 2021
RIP to the most unique voice in the game. https://t.co/GHUPdGfl09
— Matt Hinton (@MattRHinton) June 19, 2021
Robert Kekaula was a special part of the fabric of college football, especially those who love the entirety of the sport, beyond the glitz and glam of national telecasts featuring SEC powers and playoff contenders. He’ll be dearly missed.
Our thoughts go out to Kekaula’s family, and all of those in Hawaii affected by his loss.