Peter A. Donahoe


We have lost a dear friend, mentor, and valued colleague. The Attorneys and Judges Assistance Program Director Emeritus, Peter A. Donahoe passed away on March 8, 2016. He was 84. Pete was the program director from 1993 to 2004, but served the program when called upon up until he left Hawai`i for the final time in 2014. Below is an excerpt from 2004, written by then ABOTA-Hawai`i President Gerald Y. Sekiya, when Pete was awarded the ABOTA-Hawai`i Ha`aheo Award, that describes some of Pete’s professional accomplishments:

  Peter A. Donahoe was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 12, 1931. He is married to Jane Tudor-Williams and has four children: Michael, Thomas, Peter D., and Elizabeth.

Peter’s love for Hawai`i began in 1954, when he was stationed at Schofield Barracks, after returning from the Korean War where he served as a Captain in the Signal Corps with the 25th Infantry Division, and he vowed to return to Hawai`i. He did in 1960, after graduating from the University of Washington with a Bachelors degree in Political Science in 1957 and obtaining his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School.

He began his legal career as an associate with Carlsmith, Carlsmith, Wichman, & Case in Hilo from 1960 to 1963. Then, he served as staff attorney for the Hawai`i State Senate Majority in 1963; joined the Anti-Trust Division of the State Attorney General’s office (1963-65); was Assistant U.S. Attorney, Department of Justice (1965-67); joined the firm and was a partner of Robinson, Castle & Anthony (currently, O’Connor Playdon & Guben) (1967-71); was a visiting professor of Political Science at the American College of Switzerland (1971-73); and opened his own practice in 1973 until retiring in 1991…

Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson (1991-2008) writes:

  In 1972, when Peter was a visiting professor at the American College of Switzerland, the Hawai`i Supreme Court heard oral argument in Tittle v. Hurlbutt, a matter in which Peter had represented the defendant at trial. Appellate counsel arguing for his position in the Supreme Court made some clearly inaccurate factual assertions, to the great frustration of the plaintiffs' lawyer, future Justice Frank Padgett. "If Mr. Donahoe were here," Padgett declared, "he would never make such claims. Mr. Donahoe is an honorable man." First and foremost, Peter Donahoe was an honorable man.

One of Pete’s personal accomplishments that he was very proud of and a story he often told was that he was responsible for the Royal Hawaiian Band’s Friday noon performances in the Coronation Pavilion on the ‘Iolani Palace grounds. The performances started half a century ago and continues today. He was also a published poet and an artist.

Final words are from AAP’s Administrative Assistant, Kahi Deeley, who worked closely with Pete for the last 10 years: “I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from Pete as a mentor and friend. I have his delightful smile imprinted in my memory and will miss his charm the most. Pete will be greatly missed and forever loved by all who has encountered his Aloha.”

Aloha A Hui Hou
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