A Kipuka Gar­den grows

$200,000 do­nated to ‘Imiloa in mem­ory of Pa­tri­cia Ann We­ber Lee

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - COMMUNITY -

The prom­i­nent na­tive gar­den in front of the res­tau­rant at the ‘Imiloa Astron­omy Cen­ter has been named in mem­ory of Pa­tri­cia Ann We­ber Lee through a $200,000 gift made by her hus­band, Francis Kainoa Lee, and their sons, Kainoa Christo­pher Lee and Keali‘iaea Ken­neth Lee.

With the gen­er­ous gift, re­ceived Sept. 20, ‘Imiloa is launch­ing a cam­paign to fund the cre­ation of an out­door “class­room” to ed­u­cate visi­tors about the nat­u­ral and cul­tural his­tory of the unique ecosys­tem rep­re­sented by this gar­den.

The Pa­tri­cia Ann We­ber Lee Kipuka Gar­den is lo­cated in front of ‘Imiloa’s Sky Gar­den Res­tau­rant, a unique set­ting which pro­vides an un­ri­valed view of Hilo Bay and the Ha­makua Coast.

The site fea­tures an oa­sis of na­tive plants re­tained dur­ing the cen­ter’s 2004-06 con­struc­tion — thus the name “kipuka.” The gar­den is filled with 50- to 100-year-old hala and ‘ohi‘a trees which grew on top of the 1881 lava flow that cov­ered the Mokaulele re­gion of Hilo, famed in leg­ends and chants for its mul­ti­col­ored ‘ohi‘a lehua blos­soms. Be­neath the gar­den lies its most dra­matic fea­ture, a par­tially col­lapsed lava tube.

“What a priv­i­lege for ‘Imiloa to re­ceive this gen­er­ous gift in honor of Pat Lee, re­mem­bered by so many of us on the Big Is­land as our ‘Aunty Pat,’” said ‘Imiloa Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Ka‘iu Kimura. “We look for­ward to us­ing the Lee fam­ily gift to be­gin trans­form­ing our na­tive land­scape gar­dens into an out­door ex­ten­sion of our ex­hibit hall, a vi­sion we’ve long aimed to ful­fill.”

We­ber Lee (1946-2016) was born and raised in Philips­burg, N.J. She grad­u­ated from Ju­ni­ata Col­lege in Penn­syl­va­nia, then trav­eled to Hawaii in 1969 in prepa­ra­tion to join the newly es­tab­lished Peace Corps. She be­came cap­ti­vated by Hawaii and its unique cul­ture and land­scape, and ended up de­cid­ing to re­main here, work­ing at var­i­ous jobs on Oahu, in­clud­ing serv­ing as a dorm par­ent at Kame­hameha Schools, Ka­palama cam­pus.

In 1974, she mar­ried Francis Kainoa Lee, a na­tive of Hilo. In 1986, Pat and Kainoa set­tled in Waimea where she be­gan a more than 20-year ca­reer with Parker Ranch.

‘Imiloa’s even­tual vi­sion for the Pa­tri­cia Ann We­ber Lee Kipuka Gar­den is to con­struct walk­ways and steps lead­ing down to a lava­paved ed­u­ca­tion ter­race where visi­tors will be able to look into the lava tube and learn about the cul­tural and nat­u­ral his­tory of the kipuka and the plant com­mu­ni­ties that in­habit or sur­vive lava events.

The es­ti­mated cost for con­struc­tion is $500,000 and in­cludes com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­fra­struc­ture to pro­vide dig­i­tal sup­port for the out­door learn­ing sta­tion.

To aug­ment the Lee fam­ily gift and help com­plete the ed­u­ca­tional vi­sion for ‘Imiloa’s kipuka gar­den, con­sider a tax-de­ductible con­tri­bu­tion to ‘Imiloa through the Univer­sity of Hawaii Foun­da­tion at www.uh­foun­da­tion.org/ImiloaLand­scapeFund.

For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Margaret Shiba, di­rec­tor of in­sti­tu­tional ad­vance­ment, ‘Imiloa Astron­omy Cen­ter, at 9328921 or mshiba@hawaii.edu.

Cour­tesy photo

The fam­ily of the late Pa­tri­cia Ann We­ber Lee, shown with her hus­band, Francis Kainoa Lee, do­nated $200,000 to­ward a gar­den in her mem­ory at the ‘Imiloa Astron­omy Cen­ter.

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