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Spring 2011

‘Iolani’s Endowed Chairs: Making a Great School Even Greater
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Spring 2011 - Cover Story

Who Was Harold Keables?

Harold Keables’s dedication to teaching went beyond the call of duty.
Harold Keables taught English at ‘Iolani from 1965 to 1980 after devoting 30 years to students in the Denver public school system. He was named Life magazine Teacher of the Year in 1960 and died at age 82 in 1982. He touched students and faculty at ‘Iolani with his passion for learning and high standards for writing. He was dedicated to all of his students, not just the gifted or talented writers, but also the ones who initially struggled with words.
“Because he cared so much for what he was teaching, we cared too,”

“I pay special tribute to Harold Keables, my AP English teacher,” wrote author Guy Kawasaki ’72. “He taught me that the key to writing is editing. No one in the universe would be more shocked that I have written ten books than Harold Keables.” Kawasaki is the co-founder of and a founding partner of Garage Technology Ventures.    
A true academician, Keables was also famous for his meticulous correction of student writing. He introduced to ‘Iolani a method common in colleges: he used codes to direct students to a grammar book. In 1998, the English department introduced its own book, named the Keables Guide, which was tailored to the needs of ‘Iolani students.

Keables never owned a car. He preferred to live within walking distance of the school so that he could walk to campus. He was passionate about supporting ‘Iolani. He would attend sporting events, wearing his formal coat and tie, in the sweltering Hawaiian Sun.

“Because he cared so much for what he was teaching, we cared too,” remembers Cyrus Won ’70, who took several of Keables’s English couses. “He was such a good teacher and so passionate about teaching us well. We didn’t want to let him down.”

Comments from Readers

  1. C7b267295762926977d6b00943d7294c
    Mark Avery on 2/11/2012 at 9:36am

    Mr. Keables was eccentric and he was passionate about teaching the English language in all its form and beauty. His Creative Writing class I took as a junior (I think) was difficult but stimulating. When I received an A- on a short story I wrote about flying in Hawaii, after the fourth or fifth rendition (his style: lots of red, redo, resubmit) it was like winning the lottery. I still have that final version and may frame it one day!
    Aloha Mr. Keables, you left a strong legacy.

  2. F2788142e15176ac82c61bf718febd94
    John Manion on 8/27/2012 at 5:53pm

    I attended South High School in Denver 1960-63 and studied creative writing from Mr. Keables. I remember that he often taught while sitting in a chair on the top of his desk, wearing a dark suit and combat boots. I learned from him to write in a conversational tone, as if I were speaking to the reader. I have been complimented for my writing ability, but I have never written professionally, only for volunteer organization publications.