Hawaii's first female mayor, Helene Hale, dies

Hale came out of retirement to serve on the state legislature in 2000 at age 82, before suffering a minor stroke that same year. She died Friday of natural causes at 94.

The first woman to become mayor of the island of Hawaii died Friday.

Helene Hale was 94 when she died of natural causes at her home in Hilo, Hawaii, West Hawaii Today reported.

Hale was born in Minneapolis and graduated from the University of Minnesota before she and her then-husband moved to Hawaii in 1947, according to the report. She started out as a teacher before being elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1954.

West Hawaii Today said Hale was elected chairman and executive officer of the board in Hawaii Island, also known as the Big Island, in 1962, a position equivalent to mayor.

The Democrat's political career included time serving on the city council and three terms in Hawaii's state legislature. West Hawaii Today reported that Hale, then age 82, came out of retirement in 2000 to serve on the state legislature and held the post until a minor stroke affected her speech.

Hale also served her community, working as the president of groups such as the Hawaii County League of Women Voters and the Hilo Business and Professional Women’s Club, the report said.

"I think she was a formidable champion for people from all walks of life," Gerald De Mello, recently retired director of university relations for the University of Hawaii at Hilo, told West Haiwaii Today.

The newspaper credits Hale with helping create Hilo's first sewage treatment plant, bringing astronomy to Mauna Kea and advocating for a newly-built gym at the Pahoa High and Intermediate School.

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