Celebration of Life

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

In Hawaii we tend to do celebrations of life more than funerals. Having large groups of friends and "ohana" families, we like to share memories and love instead of grief.

Donna Miller was at one for the father of Yvonne Elliman - "Uncle Ross".

She shares a wonderful afternoon of love.

One of the best known RHS'69 alumni is Yvonne Elliman, a big recording star that remains close to her classmates.

A while back Donna Miller and Janie deNeeve Chang spent time with Yvonne at a Celebration of life.

Uncle Russ was a big-hearted, jovial, gentleman. He always wore a smile, filled with the Aloha spirit. Russ was Yvonne Elliman's father Russell Elliman.

The celebration was a private affair, attended by fewer than 50 guests. 

Janie and Yvonne were friends and neighbors. During their Manoa valley days and in high school they were members of a folk music group called We Folk. At the time the deNeeve’s and Yvonne went between each other’s home, so often, they became “hanai” family, calling each other’s parents Aunty and Uncle. This was the only correct and proper name as they were ohana.

The feeling of welcome came with our greeting from Allen Alexander, Yvonne’s husband at the door. Once in the home, the tropical atmosphere of trees, plants and flowers made beautiful and very Hawaii house. 

For Janie it was a walk down memory lane and a time to catch up. For me as Janie’s guest, I was honored to be a part of this intimate setting with an opportunity to experience the love and hospitality of the Elliman Ohana.

We’re reminded time waits for no one. Our lives are wonderful and full because we have each other. We have learned to savor and cherish each moment. We are so Blessed.

The formal program was short, simple, warm and memorable.

When Yvonne spoke, the love bond between father and daughter was palpable.

Yvonne later sang a song that Uncle Russ loved.

The celebration was a Hawaii affair with potluck where everything was Uncle Russ’ favorites and prepared by loving hands. As a parting gift, granddaughter Sage made peanut butter cookies to take home. 

It was at this event, I learned of Yvonne’s culinary talents and love of cooking. I sat next to a women and her son from California that spoke of eating at Yvonne’s home “all the time” while their children was growing up. Who knew?