Neal Blaisdell

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Neal Blaisdell
8th Mayor of Honolulu
In office
Preceded byJohn H. Wilson
Succeeded byFrank Fasi
23rd President of the United States Conference of Mayors
In office
Preceded byRaymond Tucker
Succeeded byJerome Cavanagh
Member Hawaii Territorial Senate
In office
Member Hawaii Territorial House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Neal Shaw Blaisdell

(1902-11-06)November 6, 1902
Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii
DiedNovember 5, 1975(1975-11-05) (aged 72)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
Resting placeOahu Cemetery
Political partyRepublican
SpouseLucy Thurston
Alma materUniversity of Hawaii
Bucknell University

Neal Shaw Blaisdell (November 6, 1902 – November 5, 1975) served as Mayor of Honolulu from 1955 to 1969 as a member of the Hawaii Republican Party. As chief executive of the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii, he oversaw one of the largest construction booms in city and county history, working closely with Governor John A. Burns. Blaisdell was the sitting mayor when Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state on August 21, 1959.

Early life[edit]

Blaisdell was born in Honolulu and had European and Hawaiian ancestry. His father was William Wallace Blaisdell II, who served as fire chief of Honolulu;[1] and his mother was Maliaka "Malie" Alaneao Merseberg.[2] A maternal great-grandfather was John Adams Cummins.[3] A paternal great-grandfather, John Blaisdell (1812–1889), came to the Hawaiian Islands from Maine in 1849.[4]

Education and athletics[edit]

Known as "Rusty", Blaisdell played basketball, football and baseball at Saint Louis School.[5] He attended the University of Hawaii and later transferred to Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where he was quarterback of the school's football team, graduating in 1926. He was also a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.[6] He received Bucknell's Alumni Award for Meritorious Achievement in 1968. Although Blaisdell also played basketball and baseball, he was inducted into the Bucknell Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988 in the football category.[7] He was also a golfer, and started his day with push-ups.[5] He returned to Honolulu to become a teacher, high school coach and athletic director.[8]

Public service[edit]

Blaisdell was elected representative of the 4th district to the legislature of the Territory of Hawaii in 1945, and the territorial senate in 1947 and 1949.[9] In 1950 he ran for Mayor of Honolulu, but withdrew after suffering from tuberculosis.[5]

Blaisdell ran against Frank Fasi and was elected in 1954, taking office in 1955.[10][11] As mayor, he oversaw the construction of the John H. Wilson Tunnels through the Koʻolau Range from Kalihi Valley; and erected the Hawaii International Center, a multipurpose complex with a concert hall, convention center, exhibition hall and sports arena.[12] After Blaisdell's death, his successor, Fasi, renamed the complex in Blaisdell's honor; is now known as the Neal S. Blaisdell Center.

From 1965 to 1966, Blaisdell was president of the United States Conference of Mayors.[13]

Death and legacy[edit]

Blaisdell married Lucy Thurston on October 23, 1926. Their daughter Velma Blaisdell Clark married James Kalaeone Clark and was a teacher for the Hawai`i State Department of Education. Their daughter Marilyn Blaisdell Ane married another football coach and taught at Punahou School for 28 years.[14]

Blaisdell suffered a stroke while doing yard work and died November 5, 1975, one day shy of his 73rd birthday.[5] He is buried at Oahu Cemetery.[11]

A park of 25.9 acres (10.5 ha) on the shore of Pearl Harbor (at 21°23′11″N 157°57′17″W / 21.38639°N 157.95472°W / 21.38639; -157.95472 (Neal S. Blaisdell Park)) was named for him.[15][16]


  1. ^ "Blaisdell, W. W. office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Archived from the original on April 3, 2012. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  2. ^ "Neal Saw Blaisdell" (PDF). Blaisdell family web site. July 27, 2007. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 23, 2010. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  3. ^ Kapiikauinamoku (1956). "John Adams Cummins Was Influential Noble: The Cummins Family—2". in The Story of Maui Royalty. The Honolulu Advertiser, Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  4. ^ Hawaiʻi State Archives (2006). "Citizenship - Passports: page 4 Beard - Brackett". Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d Mike Gordon (July 2, 2006). "Neal Blaisdell". Honolulu Advertiser. Archived from the original on June 11, 2011. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  6. ^ "1927 L'Agenda". Bucknell University. 1927.
  7. ^ "Neal Blaisdell-Bucknell Hall of Fame". Bucknell University. Archived from the original on December 30, 2010. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  8. ^ Fitts, Robert K (2008). Wally Yonamine: The Man Who Changed Japanese Baseball. University of Nebraska Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-8032-1381-4.
  9. ^ "Blaisdell, Neal S. office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Archived from the original on April 3, 2012. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  10. ^ "Democratic Party Gains in Hawaii". The Milwaukee Journal. 4 Nov 1954. p. 9.
  11. ^ a b Lawrence Kestenbaum. "Neal Shaw Blaisdell". The Political Graveyard. Archived from the original on September 6, 2010. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  12. ^ Chaplin, George (1998). Presstime in Paradise: The Life and Times of the Honolulu Advertiser, 1856-1995. University of Hawaii Press. p. 271. ISBN 978-0-8248-1963-7.
  13. ^ "200 Mayors Support Great Society Plan". The Milwaukee Journal. 3 June 1965. p. 18.
  14. ^ "'O' in Life: Marilyn Blaisdell '48 Ane". Punhou School. Fall 2007. Archived from the original on June 21, 2010. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  15. ^ John R. K. Clark (2004). "lookup of Blaisdell ". in Hawai'i Place Names: Shores, Beaches, and Surf Sites. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii Press. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  16. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Blaisdell Park

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Honolulu
1955 – 1968
Succeeded by