The physical appearance of Chaminade’s campus has undergone tremendous transformation and growth over the last half-century, but some things have remained the same.
“As a student,” notes Haelee Tallett ’18, “my relationship with the faculty there stands out as very special because my professors were so committed to helping us along the way. They would always go the extra mile and my classmates and I knew we could count on them to help us, even if it wasn’t directly related to our classwork.”
Her grandfather, Willibrord “Willie” K. Tallett ’61 agrees. “Back in the day, everything was small. We didn’t have dormitories, just temporary student housing where the Mystical Rose Oratory now stands. Our teachers were excellent. The real value of what I got was advancement of my knowledge in business and accounting,” allowing him to go on to a successful career as a senior executive at C Brewer and Company, Ltd., one of the so-called “Big Five” companies that was one of Hawaii’s largest corporate landowners.
With a quiet smile, Willie’s daughter (Haelee’s aunt), Theresa (Tallett) Edwards ‘89, recalls her pathway that led to Chaminade and on to a career in educational administration and serving those with development disabilities in her role with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. “What was exciting for me was being able to be a part of creating something new, beginning during my time as a student. I was getting my degree in Early Childhood Education with a certification in Montessori Teaching. My student teaching was done first at Haiku Hale ‘o Keiki and then later we opened another lab school for Chaminade students to teach at which was the “Bamboo Shoots” program in downtown Honolulu. I valued the experience and the dedication of those involved in the program – and remember, this is the early days of focusing on the importance of the early developmental years of children.”
Willie grew up in Hilo and attended St. Joseph’s (a Marianist school) before coming to Chaminade where values about education in the family spirit and adapting for change took root. Another value he learned was the importance of giving back. His several decades of service on the board of the Chaminade University Educational Foundation and also as a Chaminade Regent gave him ample opportunity to support and guide the growth of the small college he’d attended. During his years of service, he created and endowed a scholarship, became an active booster to support the growth of the athletics program and provided funding for the development of the Carlson Fitness Center locker rooms in Kieffer Hall.
Theresa doesn’t hesitate when asked about her favorite memory of Chaminade. An avid basketball fan, she insisted her parents and three brothers attend the 1982 basketball game against Virginia to see the fabled Ralph Sampson. They didn’t know they’d be seeing history in the making as one of the all-time biggest upsets in sports history would take place that night when Chaminade toppled the giant.
Haelee, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a budding entrepreneur with a successful island-themed jewelry business she started in high school, is effusive about her student experience. “Once I skipped an accounting class but got a phone call from my professor with the whole class on the line demanding that I come in…and I did,” she laughs. “I felt that I was spoiled with love the entire time at Chaminade.”
The three alumni seem to agree on one thing: Chaminade University will always holds a special place in the Tallett home.