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Stanley Roger Alapa
 
( February 9, 1931 - November 29, 2001 )

 

Many Baba lovers have come to know of Stan Alapa and the story of the Baba treasures he carried home to the Islands following the Great Darshan of 1969. These included Baba's chair and foot pillow (given by K.K. Ramakrishnan), hair, sadra, and sandals (gifts from the mandali) and several other precious Baba items which now form the heart of the developing Baba Center on Molokai. On September 20th of 1999, Bhau Kalchuri, a close disciple (mandali member) of Meher Baba, dedicated this Center to Beloved Avatar Meher Baba and gave it the name of Meherdham.

From the time of the '69 Darshan, the creation of such a center for Baba in Hawaii had been Stans major life goal.

Born in Hawaii, the sun of a native Hawaiian mother and a Jewish father he never knew, Stan grew up a local boy on the north end of the Island of Oahu. In accord with native "hanai" custom, Stan's mother gave him to her sister's family to raise, and they became his family. Away from the hubbub of the Honolulu side of the island, Stan flourished in the countryside.  He gained statewide notoriety as the local high school football hero and left to attend college on the mainland on a football scholarship.

A spiritual seeker from childhood, Stan never felt he fit the Mormon roots of his family and community, and began a long time silent search for the pure universal god of his ancestors known as "Akua" in Hawaiian. Deeply intuitive from his earliest years, he kept up this search throughout a turbulent and somewhat directionless path until his fateful meeting with Baba lovers in 1969.

At that time Stan was 38 years old, a recently divorced father of three young children, and the wealthy owner of a thriving nightclub (The Lemon Tree) in Waikiki when, en route home from the Great Darshan, Baba lovers, Allan Cohen, Jeannie Kerr, Susan Herr walked into his club. (Another member of this party was to meet Stan later.)  Susan writes:  "Wanting to take advantage of the nightlife in Waikiki, for some reason, I chose a club we were passing. We went inside and a big man came over and immediately asked me to dance." *

Stan & Shirley Alapa on New Year's Eve in 1966 before Meher Baba

Stan and Shirley (front) in the night club days

According to Stan, what drew his immediate attention was a blue light he had seen surrounding the three as they came through his door. As an intuitive spiritual seeker, he wanted to know the meaning of that light - and what he learned completely and instantly changed his life. Hearing from the three Meher Baba's name and seeing his picture, Stan was instantly sure he had found the "Akua" whom he had sought.

When he learned that he might still attend this Great Darshan himself, he made immediate plans to go. Pete Wells, the forth member of the group, introduced to Stan at the airport, recalls, "It was a surprise to meet someone instantly in love with Meher Baba, and it was the first of a series of wonderfully enveloping greetings shared with this sweet man over the past years. His love was Baba's."**

Accompanied by Paul Morse, a young friend of Stan's also drawn by Baba's name, the two arrived in India that May.  To this day, Stan's presence at the Darshan is fondly remembered by the remaining mandali.

Not long after his introduction to Meher Baba, Stan met and became a devoted student of Murshida Ivy Duce. Murshida was instrumental in his marriage to Shirley and served as Shirley's maid of honor at their Honolulu wedding. Beginning his long search for a permanent home for Baba's treasures he offered them to Murshida for the San Francisco Sufi Center. But Murshida made it quite clear that Baba's things were to stay in Hawaii - if they were to be removed, she said, the islands would sink!

In his last years, Stan worked hard to begin the development of a Baba Center on Molokai donating five acres of land, acquired by his family in the mid-seventies, via the native Hawaiian Homelands Act of 1921, to Meher Baba's cause. He commuted from his apartment on Oahu and worked tirelessly on weekends to build a simple, yet beautiful cottage on this land. There, he and Shirley lived while the work unfolded, and there the Baba treasures are currently housed.

He cultivated an area for crops, put in a large lawn, developed an entry way and internal parking space, and planted exotic fruit trees and lush borders around the cottage. He supplemented the external and internal boundaries of the property, already elegantly defined by tall, stately Ironwood trees planted in the seventies, with minimal and tasteful fencing. At the time of his passing, Stan was busy with a wing of guest rooms in anticipation of future Baba lovers coming to visit the Center. In fact, Stan left extensive plans that include a main house, a large meeting hall, a library and reading room and rooms dedicated to the cultivation of the arts.

Stan passed away on Thursday, November 29th, 2001, following a sudden heart attack and stroke, in Honolulu. He was 70 years old. He left his dear wife, Shirley, daughters Ohelo, Luana and Kau'i, and his much loved Hawaii Baba family to carry on his work.
Two extraordinary memorial services were held for Stan, one on Oahu and one on Molokai. Both were attended by Murshida Carol Weyland-Connor (the present Murshida of Sufism Reoriented), Allen Cohen, Ira Deitrick, and other mainland guests who had known and loved him.

In a message of condolence received by the Alapa family from one of Meher Baba's last remaining women mandali, Meheru Irani, on behalf of Goher Irani and all the mandali, Meheru writes:

Stan was most fortunate to have come to Baba on hearing His Name, as if he were more than ready and waiting for that moment, and he was fortunate to have that life with Shirley who shared in his love. More than ever Stan was with Baba in those last moments of his life with us, completely enfolded as he was in Baba's love. There was no distance for him to go, to be eternally with Baba.

Extracted from several letters of condolence to Stan's family, Bhau Kalchuri has written the following:

When (Stan) took me to Molokai and asked me the name of the cottage he had built for Beloved Baba, I gave the name. He was so happy to hear that and I know that he was full of joy with the determination that he would make a beautiful garden all around. And Beloved Baba will definitely fulfull his wish. Dear Stan had a room for the "Beloved" The room had a strong presence of the Beloved and I was feeling at that time how blessed dear Stan is that he has the longing to make His Centre as a paradise. And now I feel that he has made room in His paradise. . .I'm happy to know of the care (you) are taking in housing Baba's Treasure. This will be "the Centre for all Hawaii". . .Dear Stan wanted that Meher Dham should be constructed and it should become the pilgrimage place for Hawaii, and it is good that at the time of service the arrangement for fulfilling His Wish was made. It is very happy news to me.  Though Stan has disappeared from this world he has disappeared in order to reappear again with the torch of love for Beloved Baba to show to others. And therefore, he is blessed indeed.

Those who were blessed to know him, knew that Stan Alapa had a special sweetness about him, and manifested a gentleness that was especially compelling. In a man's world, Stan could hold forth on the spiritual heritage of his people, the skills of a Lua warrior, and the forces of darkness and light, yet Stan was a man easily moved by beauty and love and longing. A most private person in the world of his inner feelings, Stan was never one to hold back tears which might easily spring forth from his sensitive heart.

Only those who were close to Stan knew that he was also a gifted painter, story teller and writer. Some of his paintings of Meher Baba, and seascapes painted most recently, can be viewed on this website. His writings are the basis for the stories posted here, and someday - in Baba's time, other works may appear for publication.

We, who loved this unique man dearly, surely miss him, and with his passing, an era in Beloved Baba's work for Hawaii comes to a chose. But like Stan, we rejoice that he is keeping company with his Beloved. Now we eagerly await to see all that a new Baba era may bring to life in furthering Stan's heart's work: the development of Meher Baba's Center in Hawaii, Meherdham.

* Extracted from an email message posted on the YouYouYou Listserv: 12/2/01 by Pete Wells

**Extracted from an email message posted on the Meher Baba Listserv: 12/2/01 by Susan Herr


                                                
The Memorial Services

Stan Alapa was remembered by family, friends and Baba lovers at separate memorial services held on two islands, each as unique as the life he lived. According to his daughter Kau'i, who assumed primary responsibilities for the planning (which the family pulled together in just three days), the service held on Oahu, Monday, December 3, 2001, represented Stan's pre-Baba days, and the service on Molokai the following Wednesday represented Stan's later years of dedication  to Meher Baba.

The Oahu Service

The emphasis of the first service focused around Stan's large extended birth and hanai (adoptive) families and childhood friends, with a warm outpouring of stories illustrating the special talents and qualities that so endeared him to all. The midsize chapel was packed to overflowing as friends and family members came up to tell of Stan's boyhood days, his Island-wide reputation as a gifted student athlete, his time in the armed services, his dedication to helping others, and his compassionate nature that seemed to set him apart from others. A recurring theme seemed to be the awareness of Stan's deep spiritual nature mingled with either the acknowledgement or puzzlement that, although he never talked about it, surely Stan must have known and loved Jesus.

Stan's middle daughter, Luana (the former Miss Hawaii of 1987,) MC for the first event, introduced the Oahu service with two announcements: first, that the family had made a decision to hold a "nondenominational service," (meaning peace between this largely Mormon and scattered Catholic crowd), and second, that Stan would want everybody smiling - an attitude of celebration. These gestures appeared to represent a new focus for this traditionally religious audience, but all seemed to be surprisingly warmed and heartened by this refreshingly new approach.

With musical backup by cousin Gary Aiko, and his famous mother "Auntie" Genoa Kiawe, all three daughters danced a moving farewell hula in tribute to their father. Then Kau'i Alapa made the courageous gesture to share for the first time, the real core of Stan's most private and personal life with all those gathered, and to finally settle the puzzlement of their long time spiritual speculations. She spoke of Stan's search of, and great love for Meher Baba, explaining that the large picture next to Stan's open casket, was the person whom Stan loved most of all - the most recent embodiment of God, Akua, in human form. She explained about the Avatar and the work He comes to do in successive incarnations - that He had been Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed and she told about her father's dedication to furthering Meher Baba's work in Hawaii. She concluded by announcing that all were going to hear a song specially recorded for them by Sufism Reoriented, called Ever Closer, a song that had meant much to Stan in his last few months, a beautiful and moving song with a chorus sung to the name of Meher Baba. Despite the "foreign" name, there was not a dry eye in the house.

The Molokai Service

The service on Molokai, held under a large pandal on the lawns of Meherdham, was unashamedly a celebration of Meher Baba from the get-go. Many attending the gathering either shared Stan's life as fellow Baba lovers, or were close friends made over his years of living on the Island with whom he had shared, or at least knew of his love for Meher Baba. Some, however, learned of Meher Baba for the first time.

To honor his work for Baba and his long time relationship with Sufism Reoriented, Murshida Carol Weyland Connor, Ira Deitrick, President of Sufism Reoriented, and Allan Cohen, Stan's original Baba contact, not only attended both services, but spoke major pieces for this crowd.

Allan Cohen explained his chance meeting with Stan as "so incredibly unlikely" that only Divine Intervention could have arranged it. He concluded by saying:  "Meher Baba must have so wanted Stan in His family that he orchestrated an almost unbelievable set of circumstances to get the contact made. But Stan was worth it and we all came to know that."

Ira Deitrick characterized Stan as, "a gentle giant who carried a great force of love, who, upon first hearing Meher Baba's name, "was flooded with recognition of Meher Baba and consumed with a need to attend the darshan." He related an incident that occurred soon after Stan's return from the darshan and meeting with Murshida Duce:

Stan heard some tapes of songs by Hank Mindlin and Carol Leigh Duce devoted to Meher Baba. He was entranced with this music and determined to produce a record album using the record studio he owned a half interest in. Stan wanted this album to be very grand. He hired a talented music arranger, members of the Honolulu symphony and a large choir. Stan paid Hank Mindlin to spend months in Honolulu working on the album. Stan underwrote the considerable expense as a love offering to Meher Baba and Murshida Duce. The album was finished by Christmas, 1969. The album (Called, "Inquire Within," CD sold at Searchlight) was joyfully received by Murshida Duce and the mandali in India. So far as we know, it was the first Meher Baba album to be released in the West.

Murshida Connor presented an overview of Baba's work, its relationship to Sufism Reoriented and reviewed Stan's own role in bringing Baba to Hawaii and founding a center for his work. She introduced Meher Baba to the crowd by stating:  "Jesus Christ, Mohammed, the Buddha, or Akua: as I speak and mention the name of Meher Baba, you are welcome to substitute the name you use to designate this central quality of force, love, and light through which all of us and the whole world have their being. By Meher Baba, I simply mean the Divine Being who turns the great wheel of all of our lives."

At the conclusion of her talk, Murshida Conner then presented Shirley with a large, framed print of an original painting of a young Meher Baba standing on the sands of Hawaii, telling Shirley that the original painting itself, 5 X 7 feet, would be arriving soon to be a centerpiece for the new Center. (Displayed on Home page)

Such profound and palpable feelings of love were floating through the gathered crowd that all felt caught up in something far more than themselves - certainly, far more than they had expected. It seemed a fitting tribute to, and indicator of the importance Meher Baba was giving to His Center in Hawaii, and a promise to the future that He intends Meherdham to flourish as bountifully as the beauty of the Islands in which it now resides.

Following the service, Stan's body was driven to a small, near-by national cemetery where he was laid to rest bedecked in the colorful and fragrant leis that are a tradition of the Islands. Here Bhau's last words are recalled:

What message should I give for the service of one who had dedicated his life to the Beloved and the Beloved is ready to accept him in His arms to serve Him?  Tell them (his family and loved ones) that thought it appears as if it was their loss, but actually it is the gain of dear Stan "because he would meet Beloved Baba in His Real Abode to get more wine to serve Him and therefore they should remain composed in His love and feel happy that dear Stan's wish will be fulfilled" and he is placed in such a place from where he will keep watch on the progress of Meher Dham.

He is blessed indeed.

* Quotes from copies of the speeches loaned to the author (in attendance) for purposes of verification by Sufism Reoriented.

 

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