Nelson Doi


Name Nelson Doi
Born 1922
Died May 16 2015
Birth Location Pahoa, Hawai'i
Generational Identifier

Nisei


State senator, judge, and lieutenant governor of the state of Hawai'i. Nelson Doi was born in 1922 in Pāhoa on the island of Hawai'i and grew up in Hilo and Kawaihae. He attended Honoka'a High School and the University of Hawai'i, where he was student body president in 1945 and went on to graduate from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1948. Returning to the Big Island, he became a deputy county attorney and was one of the youngest participants in the 1950 Constitutional Convention. As part of the Democratic Revolution of 1954, he won election to the territorial senate and remained in the Senate after Hawai'i became a state. He was appointed to the Third Circuit Court in Hilo in 1969. After an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor in 1970, he ran successfully in 1974 defeating future Senator Daniel Akaka in the primary and winning the election alongside Governor George Ariyoshi. Though a Democrat, he was not part of the coalition built by former Governor John Burns, and he often clashed with Ariyoshi. He left office after one four-year term. He later served on the high court of the Marshall Island and subsequently retired to his home in Waimea. He passed away on May 16, 2015.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Coffman, Tom. The Island Edge of America: A Political History of Hawai'i. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2003.

Phillips, Paul C. Hawaii's Democrats: Chasing the American Dream. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1982.

Taylor, Lois. "Back in Kamuela, Nelson Doi's Restless." Honolulu Star-Bulletin, March 3, 1983, D1–2.