BIIF official Kaupu remembered as mentor, advocate, friend
Bobby Kaupu, the Cal Ripken Jr. of BIIF umpiring, died on Sunday, five days after turning 101.
Like the Baltimore Orioles shortstop, who played in 2,632 consecutive games, Kaupu was also an Iron Man. Kaupu was a BIIF official for baseball, softball and football for seven decades.
He retired as a BIIF official in 2013 and was a youth coach for more than 40 years. Kaupu and youngster Pat Pacheco, who turns 77 in September, were the last of the game’s long-time guardians.
“When I first started, Bobby was my mentor,” Pacheco said. “He went out to help the youngsters and promote sportsmanship. He was an advocate of that. He wanted the game to be played the way it was supposed to be played. He wanted it to be played fair.
“Bobby was a man of integrity. He loved the game and knew the game. To understand Bobby, he would show you how he felt. He did what he did because he loved it, and it rubbed off on you.”
Kaupu was a heavy equipment operator for the county and was married to his wife, Geri, for 52 ½ years.
“He loved his sports and did a lot of coaching, from T-ball to Little League, Makule league, and did women’s softball,” Geri said. “He also coached high school softball at St. Joseph. He was very active in sports.”
His granddaughter, Randalynn Kaupu, played softball for him and described him as a no-fool-around coach.
“He was very knowledgeable. He was there for a purpose, and that was to teach,” she said. “The family nickname for him was, ‘The Law.’ Whatever he said, everybody better listen.
“I’m the oldest grandchild, and he did a lot before I came along. He was into boxing and a paddling coach in my younger days. He influenced a lot of people in this community.”
What Pacheco remembers most is the way Kaupu made you feel. Even in arguments or discussions, Kaupu would let you have your say.
“When you’re young, you think you know it all,” Pacheco said. “But with an old-timer like Bobby, he would let you speak your mind. Then tell you to shut your mouth and that you’re done.”
It’s perhaps fitting that Kaupu lived on Pilipaa street. The word roughly translates to living together in great harmony. In his own neighborhood, Uncle Bobby would encourage the kids running around with nothing to do to join his baseball or basketball teams.
The imprint Kaupu left on the league is huge because he held clinics to train the next generation of umpires. Pacheco compared that to prospects in Major League Baseball, ready at some point to fill somebody’s shoes.
He’s now the lone guardian left. He’s a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, so the hunt for a World Series repeat will keep him busy.
But when he has spare time, his longtime hobby is hunting. Pacheco has been hunting since he was 6 years old. He’ll take his truck and drive to the mountain and wait for pigs. If he looks up into the stars, he’ll see his old friend.
Kaupu and wife Geri are survived by son Robert III (Linda), who lives in Ohio; daughter Roberta Kaupu, who lives in Virginia; daughter Rochelle (Harold Hemperley), who lives in South Carolina; daughter Renell (Greg Kaialiilii), who lives in Kawaihae; son Raymond Sr. (Joy), who lives in Keaukaha; son Raphael Sr. (Sandra), who lives in Keaukaha, next door to Raymond; son Ravel Sr. (Donna), who lives in Pahala; and son Radford, who lives in Hilo.
Their deceased children are son Randall and daughter Jill.