Football Legend, 'Five-0' Actor Herman Wedemeyer
by Mary Adamski
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Jan 25 1999
One of Hawaii's most famous athletes, Herman J. Wedemeyer, died yesterday
in Queen's Hospital. He was 74.
Wedemeyer was named to the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame for
his 1945 role as an All-American running back for St. Mary's College in
He was still revered as an outstanding athlete more than 50 years after his
headline-making college career, which was the topic of a 1997 Sports Illustrated
feature. He was active as a successful amateur golfer familiar in recent
years as a marshal and first-tee announcer at the Hawaiian Open and other
Wedemeyer was just as widely known for his part in the cast of the "Hawaii
Five-O" television series. He played a Hawaiian policeman, "Duke Lukela,"
from 1968 until the popular series ended in 1980.
He was elected to a term on the City Council and two terms in the state House
"After all the years of exposure on 'Five-O,' with people always approaching
him, he was still gracious and thanked them for recognizing him," said longtime
friend Byron Feldman.
"He was the greatest gentleman with people, so polite. He made everybody
Feldman, who had played football on an opposing team and in recent years
shared the golf-tournament announcing job with his friend, said Wedemeyer
had not been able to return to the golf course since heart-bypass surgery
"He had all the grace and coordination of a natural athlete," Feldman said.
"He moved from one sport to another. He played golf like a pro. When we played
pro-am, he was out-driving the pro."
Fellow "Hawaii Five-O" actor Harry Endo said, "I treasured acting with him.
He was a popular fellow on the set. I was impressed with his humble nature.
He was unassuming, very personable ... not what you'd expect. You'd expect
an All-American football player to be boisterous sometimes.
"He was an all-around athlete, a great golfer. He took me aside and improved
my game 100 percent," said Endo, who joined Wedemeyer as part of a regular
Waialae Country Club group "first off the tee Saturday mornings."
Wedemeyer didn't get national Hall of Fame recognition until 1979, and in
1997, he was one of the first local sports heroes to be honored at a new
Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame.
But he was an island sports legend since playing football for St. Louis High
School. Known as "Squirmin' Herman," he went on to play at the small California
college on the team that took it to the Sugar Bowl and the Oil Bowl. His
time at St. Mary's was interrupted for service in the Merchant Marine.
After graduation, he tried a brief career in professional football.
After his return to Hawaii, Wedemeyer was employed by several businesses
including Dairyman's Association, the Ilikai Hotel and the Makaha Valley
Golf Club. He retired from Servco Pacific as vice president for automotive
marketing and merchandising.
Survivors include his wife, Carol, and brother, Charlie, also a former college
football great, who has fought a long battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.
Also surviving are six children, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Funeral services are pending.
Go to Bill Kwon's