Dr. Dennis Xavier Hualani Aloiau Chai, retired University of Hawai‘i (UH) at Mānoa College of Education Associate Professor, passed away on July 20, 2016 at the age of 72. With the university since 1969, Chai began his career as an assistant in intramurals and a lecturer before becoming assistant then associate professor in what is now the Department of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Science (KRS). He would continue to teach part-time for several years after his 2003 retirement.
Born in Kāne‘ohe in 1943, Chai graduated from St. Louis High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in recreation leadership and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with emphasis on health and physical education from UH Mānoa. He earned his doctorate in education with a specialization in kinesiology and exercise science from the University of Southern California (USC).
Chai was an all-star, multi-sport athlete in high school and a letter winner in basketball, volleyball, and track at UH Mānoa. A U.S. Army veteran, he served in Korea during the Vietnam War. Before working in the College of Education, he was a graduate assistant at USC and taught at St. Louis High School.
Throughout the years, Chai coached countless youth and high school sports teams. He was a founding member of the Hawai‘i chapter of the Positive Coaching Alliance and remained steadfast in his commitment to health, fitness, and community. A three-time gold medal winner in the USA Volleyball Tournament, Chai played the sport well into his 60s. He also taught Sunday school on the weekends at St. Ann’s Catholic Church.
The numerous organizations to which he contributed include the International Council and Hawai‘i Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation; the National Association of Sport and Physical Education; the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation; the National Recreation and Park Association; and the Kapi‘olani Hospital Childhood Obesity Task Force among many others.