Neal Blaisdell

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Neal Shaw Blaisdell
Neal Blaisdell.jpg
8th Mayor of Honolulu
In office
Preceded by John H. Wilson
Succeeded by Frank Fasi
Member Hawaii Territorial Senate
In office
Member Hawaii Territorial House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born (1902-11-06)November 6, 1902
Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii
Died November 5, 1975(1975-11-05) (aged 72)
Honolulu, Hawaii
Resting place Oahu Cemetery
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lucy Thurston
Residence Hawaii
Alma mater University of Hawaii
Bucknell University
Profession Teacher

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 City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii, Blaisdell oversaw one of the largest construction booms in city and county history, working closely with Governor John A. Burns.

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 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 from Maine to the Hawaiian Islands in 1849.[4]

Education and athletics[edit]

Known as "Rusty", Blaisdell played basketball, football, and baseball at Saint Louis School.[5] He attended Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania where he was quarterback of the school's football team, graduating in 1927. He received Bucknell's Alumni Award for Meritorious Achievement in 1968. Although Blaisdell also played both basketball and baseball, he was inducted into the Bucknell Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988 under the category of football.[6] He was also a golfer who started his day with push ups.[5] Blaisdell returned to Honolulu to become a teacher, high school coach and athletic director.[7]

Public service[edit]

He was elected as representative of the 4th district to the legislature of the Territory of Hawaii in 1945, and the territorial senate in 1947 and 1949.[8] In 1950 he ran for Mayor of Honolulu, but withdrew after suffering from tuberculosis.[5]

Blaisdell ran against Frank Fasi and was elected mayor in 1954, taking office in 1955.[9][10] As mayor, Blaisdell saw the construction of the John H. Wilson Tunnels through the Koʻolau Range from Kalihi Valley, and erected the Hawaii International Center, a multi-purpose complex with concert hall, convention center, exhibition hall and sports arena.[11] After Blaisdell's death, his successor Fasi renamed the complex in his honor. It is now known as the Neal S. Blaisdell Center.

From 1965 to 1966, Blaisdell was president of the United States Conference of Mayors.[12]

Death and legacy[edit]

Blaisdell married Lucy Thurston on October 23, 1926. Daughter Velma Blaisdell Clark married James Kalaeone Clark Jim Clark (American football) and was a teacher for the Hawai`i State Department of Education. Daughter Marilyn Blaisdell Ane married another football coach and taught at Punahou School for 28 years.[13] Blaisdell suffered a stroke while doing yard work and died November 6, 1975.[5] He was buried at Oahu Cemetery.[10]

A park of 25.9 acres (10.5 ha) located 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.[14][15]


  1. ^ "Blaisdell, W. W. office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Retrieved October 7, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Neal Saw Blaisdell" (PDF). Blaisdell family web site. July 27, 2007. 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. Retrieved October 7, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Neal Blaisdell-Bucknell Hall of Fame". Bucknell University. Retrieved October 7, 2010. 
  7. ^ Fitts, Robert K (2008). Wally Yonamine: The Man Who Changed Japanese Baseball. University of Nebraska Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-8032-1381-4. 
  8. ^ "Blaisdell, Neal S. office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Retrieved October 7, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Democratic Party Gains in Hawaii". The Milwaukee Journal. 4 Nov 1954. p. 9. 
  10. ^ a b Lawrence Kestenbaum. "Neal Shaw Blaisdell". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved October 7, 2010. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ "200 Mayors Support Great Society Plan". The Milwaukee Journal. 3 June 1965. p. 18. 
  13. ^ "'O' in Life: Marilyn Blaisdell '48 Ane". Punhou School. Fall 2007. Retrieved October 7, 2010. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Blaisdell Park

External links[edit]

Preceded by
John H. Wilson
Mayor of Honolulu
1955 – 1968
Succeeded by
Frank Fasi