Obituary of Herman Piilani Cerbana
He was known far and wide simply as Uncle Herman. His legacy to his many adoring nieces, nephews, as well as the next generation of keikis, and calabash ohana was one of love and aloha, and he’ll be fondly remembered for the simple but profound gift he gave us of his time. You see, to Uncle Herman …. just being there to witness the occasions, celebrate the milestones, cheer us on to victory, and comfort us during the tough times was enough for him. And we all loved him for this.
After a long bout with a host of illnesses and disease that he bravely fought for years, he finally went home to be with the Lord and join his beloved mother Maryann and sister Turalene on June 29, 2019. He is survived and deeply loved by his older brother Earl Cerbana and sister-in-law Patricia Cerbana, as well as his sisters Rose Kerr and Christine Cerbana. Although he never married or had children of his own, he considered all of us his kids and developed an individual bond with each niece and grand-niece, and each nephew and grand-nephew that we’ll forever cherish. Our collective ohana rejoice that he is no longer burdened by pain, and comforted that he would consider this an exceptional development in that he’s no longer tethered to an oxygen bottle (which bothered him to no end)!
Uncle was born in Honolulu to a fiercely proud Hawaiian makuahine and traces his Filipino heritage to his father with whom he shared the same name. He was a McKinley Tiger, and it gave him a great sense of purpose and satisfaction that he was able to have a hand in raising his niece Vanessa and nephew Lemen whom he shared special bonds with throughout his life.
At his core though, Uncle sought adventure and yearned for the calling of the open ocean. Wanderlust led him to become a Merchant Marine and allowed him to travel to many ports of call throughout the world. He was proud of his close to 32 years of service in the Seafarers International Union, and considered those years part of his great life adventure. He served various roles on the crews of those ships from cook, to porter to able seaman. Having Uncle Herman come in to port meant we got to spend a few brief hours with him and we always looked forward to those times to hear his stories of the far east, and to also get to go out to dinner – since he was fond of eating out!
He was humble and generous. Uncomplicated and gentle. His laughter made you happy, and his thoughtfulness came from the heart. Uncle loved bingo, Manny Pacquiao, the Seattle Seahawks, and Chinese buffets. He sneaked sweets to avoid the glare of his sister in law, and could always be counted on to bring a large pan of char siu and roast pork to family gatherings.
They say that the ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul. I think this aptly describes my Uncle. He was at home close to the ocean, so the family will be honoring his last wishes by spreading his remains in Hawaiian waters. We thank the SIU for helping to make this possible.
A small private ceremony will be held on Sunday the 14th of July, and the family asks that in lieu of flowers, you join us in making a donation to the International Seafarers Center in Long Beach, CA that gave Uncle Herman a place to live and a purpose in life for many years. Checks can be made out to International Seafarers Center and sent to Patricia Cerbana for distribution.
Malama pono, a hui hou Uncle. We wish you clear skies and calm seas.