Al Keali'i Chock
  (e-mail) is an Ethnobotanist (and with the exception of three jobs for almost four years has always been involved in ethnobotany) in non-academic, US Government and United Nations full-time positions   [he was employed by two agencies which have no scientific connections:  the US Army [mandatory national service = "draft" (discontinued in 1972); served as Public Affairs Specialist and Interpreter, and subsequently Non-Commissioned Officer-in-Charge, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, in Nürnberg, Germany (veterans educational benefits were discontinued after Jan. 31, 1955, and not restored until more than a decade later)], and the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES)  (Technical Administrative Assistant, Machine Records Branch, Ansbach EES Depot, Katterbach bei Ansbach/Mfr., Germany; and Senior Tabulating Operator at AAFES headquarters in New York, NY)].  After three months a the Plant Quarantine Training Center (PQD-ARS-USDA), he became a Plant Quarantine Inspector in the port of New York, NY; and transferred to the port of Honolulu in January 1961.   
Al has been  a Lecturer of Botany at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM), off-and-on since 1961 (on a regular basis from 1961-67, and also since 1992, when he returned home after retiring from the USDA Foreign Service), when he was asked to teach Botany 105, Economic Plants of Hawai'i and the Pacific.  This course was started by his major professor (Dr. Harold St. John) in 1942, with more than a third of the course content devoted to coconuts (niu, Cocos nucifera), an important plant in the Pacific.  Al decided that since taro (kalo, Colocasia esculenta) was of greater importance to the early Hawaiians (po'e kahiko), he revised the course contents accordingly.  He petitioned for further course changes, and in 1964 the course title was changed to Ethnobotany, and was increased from two semester credit hours to three.  He was also Assistant Botanist [part-time, National Science Foundation (NSF) funded for improvement of the Herbarium] at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum.  
Al left Hawai‘i in 1967 for a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) promotion (Assistant Inspector in Charge) and transfer to Baltimore, Maryland, but returned to Hawai‘i every two to three years to teach Botany 105 during the summer session.   Botany 105 was subsequently taught by the late Bea Krauss (retired Plant Physiologist, Pineapple Reserch Institue of Hawaii), the late Izzie Abbott (Gerrit P. Wilder Professor Emerita of Botany, UHM; Professor Emerita of Biology, Stanford University), Will McClatchey (former Professor of Botany; UHM; former Vice-President for Research, Botanical Research Institute of Texas; and now General Partner, Woodland Valley Meadow Farm, Eugene OR), Tamara Ticktin (Professor of Botany, UHM)Mark Merlin (Professor of Botany, UHM), and Anthony Amend (Associate Professor of Botany, UHM).   In 2005-06 the UHM course (Botany 105, Introductory Ethnobotany) was redesigned as an introduction to the ethnobotany discipline by the Ethnobotany Faculty to meet only once weekly, with the rest of the week web-based, with an additional, optional laboratory.  Many of the concepts of the course redesign are today part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Vision and Change Undergraduate Education program.  A further Introductory Ethnobotany course revision took place in the fall semester 2011, with two lectures a week in an auditorium, and smaller (20 students) "hands-on" sections (laboratories), with some video lectures as supplements.  Al redesigned the Honors Section (Botany 105A) meeting twice a week, supplemented by video lectures, and student presenations on cultural plants belonging to a selected plant family,  beginning with the spring semester 2012.  See UH History of Ethnobotany pdf attachment below.

Al retired from the USDA's Foreign Service in 1992 after 38 years of Federal government employment (military, civil, and foreign service).  He also served as the Plant Quarantine Officer for the  Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)  in Rome, Italy, administering the International Plant Protection Convention.   His last assignment with USDA was in the Washington DC metro area (Hyattsville MD; now at Riverdale MD), where he was the International Regional Director (Asia & Pacific),  Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS),  United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).   While in the DC metro area, he was the Agriculture Representative (1989-1991) of the Governing Board of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA).  

After his retirement Al became a member of the UHM Adjunct Botany Faculty.   He now teaches  Botany 105, Introductory Ethnobotany in the summers (Outreach College), Botany 105A (Honors Program), and  Botany 446, Hawaiian Ethnobotany in the spring (College of Natural Sciences).

Al was born in Honolulu, Territory of Hawai‘i (T. H.), and grew up first in Waikīkī (160 Makee Road) and then lower Mānoa [Bingham Tract (a.k.a. Pākē Hollywood); a half block makai of Wilder Ave.], which was five blocks from the old UH campus quadrangle (Hawai'i, Gartley, Dean, George, and Crawford Halls).  His mother (a Territorial Normal School graduate, later enrolled in classes after school and during the summer, received her B.Ed. and fifth year professional certificate from UH) was a fourth grade school teacher (Kalihi-Waena).  His father was proprietor of the Post Restaurants (in the era before they were replaced by the EM, NCO, and Officers' Clubs) at US Army bases [Fort Shafter, Fort Armstrong (now Piers 1-2, Foreign Trade Zone no. 9 and cruise ship terminal), Luke Field (Ford Island, now under the US Navy), and Hickam Field (now US Air Force)], he also held the leases for Weli Fish Pond (about 35 acres; now Lower Fort Shafter Flats; at the mouth of the Maunaloa and Kalihi Streams, whch is 'ewa-mauka of the Middle St. & Dillingham Blvd. intersection, in the ahupua'a of Kahauiki) and a banana plantation (mauka of the Ala Wai Canal and makai of Date Street; now the Ala Wai Golf Course); and was a former partner and officer of the Honolulu Fruit Company, which was a casualty of the Depression.   

Al was always interested and involved in Hawaiian culture (his mother taught fourth grade, which included Hawaiian history and culture) and in science; and decided against chemistry (smells), zoology (formaldehyde), physics (too much math), and microbiology (he was near-sighted).  He chose botany (nice smells), instead.  

He attended English Standard Schools in Honolulu (
Abraham Lincoln, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Theodore Roosevelt; and skipped his high school senior year to attend He attended the 
  • Hannibal-LaGrange College [(now University) with a tuition (Lallage Feazel) scholarship, and guaranteed kitchen (rinsing pots and pans, and occasional waiting tables) and janitorial (science second floor) work @ twenty-five cents ($0.25) @ hour, but with a higher wage in the 1948 summer, forty cents ($0.40) @ hour!] in Hannibal MO  (A.A.);  
  • University of Hawai‘i  [BA with Botany major and Anthropology/Sociology minor, studying under Drs. Harold St. John (1892-1991), Kenneth Pike Emory (1897-1992), and Andrew Lind (1901-1998), who authored Hawai'i's Peoplehe completed language courses in French (Prof. Dorothy Aspinwall), German (Prof. Bertha Müller, who translated Goethe's Botanical Writings), and Hawaiian (before the diacritical marks, taught by Kahu Edward Kahale of Kawaiaha'o Church); and had a two-year Graduate Assistant appointment to teach two General Botany (Botany 100) laboratories which met twice a week; and MS in Botany]; and  
  • University of Michigan [AbD; which included a year as research assistant to W. H. (Herb) Wagner, Jr. (1920-2000), the Hawaiian fern expert]; he successfully passed his comprehensive, and German , and French reading examinations.
  • He later got his high school diploma from Kukui High School, and is listed in their online yearbook.  

To escape the Michigan summer heat, Al worked two summers as a Ranger-Naturalist in the St. Mary (Lake) District of Glacier National Park in Montana, interpreting the park's natural history, including plant uses and cultural impacts, to park visitors, and giving evening ranger lectures and programs at the Rising Sun campground and St. Mary Ranger area. Once a week he was at the Sun Point Information Office (see photo on right).  There were four inches of snow on the fourth of July weekend in 1955, and the Sun Point Ranger cabin had a roof doorway (12 feet above the ground level) for the winter. The cabin was on St. Mary Lake, adjacent to Baring Creek, did not have electricity, and was more than a mile from the Going-to-the-Sun Highway. 
While in the US Army, he studied journalism, borrowing books from his fellow service draftees (prior to 1972, nearly every male was obligated to devote two years to military service) mentors [John J. (Jack) McCafferty (United Press International) and Fred Lackman (Seattle Times)], and from the Amerika Haus (USIS) in Nürnberg.  

Al was also botanically mentored by Otto Degener (1899-1988), author of Flora Hawaiiensis, and went on hikes with him and Amy B. H. Greenwell (1920-1974), who eventually moved back to the family holdings in Kona, and donated her Kealakekua property, an example of the prehistoric Kona field systems, to the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, to serve as an ethnobotanical garden.  When Al completed his UH graduate studies, he joined a group of scientists (D. Elmo Hardy, entomologist, and E. Alison Kay, malacologist) to collect specimens for the Hui o Laka, an organization which was spearheaded by Kaua'i residents (Mrs. Ruth Knudsen Hanner, and Mrs. Juliet Rice Wichman) as a program to implement the Koke'e Natural History Museum.   He spent six weeks in Koke'e, collecting plants from various parts of Kaua 'i.

After retirement, Al studied two years of Hawaiian with its diacritical marks from  Assoc. Prof. Noelani Clarke Losch [then at Leeward Community College (LCC)]; audited (SEED/SCVP program) Hawaiian and Pacific religion (Prof. John Charlot), and Hawaiian history (Asst. Prof. Noelani Arista) graduate seminars at UHM; and drama classes at LCC and Kumu Kahua Theatre.

Al met his wife, Yona, at the 10th Pacific Science Congress (Ethnobotanical Section).  Yona is a family entertainer, Past Director of the Pōhai Nani Players, and Chair, Pōhai Nani Art Studio. Yona also attended Kukui High School (last entry in yearbook).  They have three daughters  (two of whom were National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists):  
Dr. T. Makana Chock,  MLIS, MA, PhD  [Associate Professor of Communications and Newhouse [Research Chair (2013-2016; endowed rotating chair with three year term)], S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University, Syracuse NY;  and  former (2000-2005) Lecturer of Communications, Indiana University, Bloomington IN].
Dr. D. Alana Chock,  BSN, MS, MD, AOA, FACS  [laparascopic surgeon and partner, Northwest Weight Loss Surgery, Everett WA;  and former (2004-2008) Assistant Clinical Professor of General Surgery, and Director, Hernia Center, University of California-San Diego, San Diego CA].  Her husband is Dr. Steve Seslar, MD, PhD [pediatric electrocardiogist, Children's Hospital, Seattle WA;  forrner (2004-2008) Director of Pediatric Electrocardiology, Children's Hospital, San Diego CA] and they are the parents of three children, Zane (♂), Talia Bo (♀), and Levi (♂).  
D. Malama Chock,  MS-CE, PE  [Environmental Engineer, Atsugi Naval Air Facility, Japan;  former Project Manager, Edwards Air Force Base CA (2012-15); environmental engineer [Manager, Clean Water Team, Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works, Fort Hood TX (2009-2012)];  State of Michigan (2007-2009),  Clayton Group Services (2006-2007; now Bureau Veritas),  University of Michigan (1995-2006; environmental coordinator, 2000-2006), and  Sun Company (1993-1995)]
Al recently had his DNA analyzed by www.ancestry.com for genetic origins.  The results were 91% East Asia and 9% Polynesia. 

Al is a member of many organizations, including the  Society for Economic Botany (SEB), International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE),  Society of Ethnobiology (SoE), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS),   Bishop Museum Association [charter member, 1953],  Hawai'i Academy of Science,   Hawaiian Historical Society,  and  Hawai'i State Society of Washington DC  [former editor (1968-71), first vice-president (1969-71), president (1972), and board member (1968-69, 1972-75, 1988-91)];   and a  life member of the  Hawaiian Botanical Society  [former secretary (1962), director/board member (1963, 1965, 1993-1994), president (1964), and founding editor (1962-63, 1966)],   Pacific Science Association,   Sigma Xi the scientific research society,   University of Hawai'i Alumni Association,   University of Michigan Alumni Association,   and   Roosevelt High School Alumni Association/Roosevelt Alumni Foundation  (RHSAA, RAF)[director (1994-2011), and former RAF vice-president (1994-96) and former president (1996-1998)].  He is the treasurer of the  Clowns of Aloha (Clowns of America International (COAI) Alley No. 354, since 2003)  and  Hawai'i Magicians Society (International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring No. 185, since 2004); member of the Jimmy Yoshida Aoha Assembly No. 89 of the Society of American MagiciansInternational Brotherhood of Magicians, and Academy of Magical Arts.

He participated as a board member of the Open Science Network in Ethnobiology (OSN), which was a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project for the furtherance of undergraduate ethnobiology eeducation, with the support of the Society for Economic Botany (SEB), Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT), and University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM).  The group consists of the natural, physical, and social sciences educators, from national and international institutions, who teach at least one undergraduate course about people and plant interactions and interrelationships.

His other past community involvement included the  The Arbors Association of Apartment Owners  [Vice President (1997-2008);  Director (1997-2009)],  'Ewa Beach Community Trust Fund [Director (1999-2008)],  'Ewa by Gentry Community Association  [Vice President (1993-1995) and President (1995-1996)],  Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE), Honolulu Lodge #616 [member, Youth Activities Committee, (1993-96), and House Committee (1996-97); and appointed officer: Inner Guard (2000-2004)],  Nā Kupuna o Ko'olau  [Director, 2000-2001] at the Kāne'ohe Community and Senior Center,   Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), Harmony Lodge #3 (member since1996); Exclesior Lodge #1 (since 1997),   National Conference of State Societies  [Deputy Director General (1973-74) and First Vice-President (1974-75)],  Federal Plant Quarantine Inspectors’ National Association [(FPQINA) name changed in 1981 to National Association of Agriculture Employees (NAAE)]  [Member (1959-70); Editor (1963-64), Contributing Editor (1964-65);  Co-Chairman, Government Relations Committee (1965-67);  Co-Negotiator (with Ernest B. Lee), first exclusive National Agreement (1966); and Negotiating Team, Local No. 13 (1967)].  
(June 23, 2017)                                                                                                                              (Photos by Mary Ann Changg, Liu Huajie, and David O. Karraker)    



Al Keali'i Chock,
Oct 20, 2012, 7:50 PM