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Lorrie Mortimer, Contributions to UH Will Not Be Forgotten

University of Hawaiʻi
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 956-9803
Mia Noguchi, (808) 956-9095
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Feb 4, 2005

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Lorraine "Lorrie" Mortimer, wife of former University of Hawaiʻi President Kenneth Mortimer, passed away this morning at the age of 67 in Bellingham, Wash., after a long battle with blood cancer.

Born and raised in Honolulu, the Roosevelt High School graduate returned to Hawaiʻi in 1993 when her husband became president of the University of Hawaiʻi. Lorrie quickly became active in the community and played a very important role as the first lady of the university, describing herself as a "non-paid volunteer for the university."

"Lorrie Mortimer was a gracious and passionate advocate for the university, and a dedicated individual who gave selflessly to the university and the community," said UH Interim President David McClain. "She‘ll be missed by all in the UH ʻohana who had the pleasure of meeting her and being touched by her sincerity and generosity. We extend our deepest sympathies to President Emeritus of the University of Hawaiʻi Ken Mortimer and the entire family."

Elegance, charm and grace were all traits repeatedly spoken by those who knew her. During her time in Hawaiʻi, she was known as a passionate supporter of the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the Hawaiʻi Food Bank. She described the Hawaiʻi Food Bank as a charity that she "strongly believed in," and enjoyed her involvement at the Honolulu Academy of Arts because it "brought new pleasure." Her background was scientific as she earned a bachelor‘s degree in microbiology and worked for several years as a computer programmer.

The couple, who met as students at the University of Pennsylvania, returned to Bellingham in 2001 following President Mortimer's retirement from UH, and looked forward to being closer to and spending more time with their only child, Lisa, who lived in California at the time.

Prior to her arrival in Hawaiʻi, Lorrie was actively involved at Western Washington University where Kenneth previously served as president. There, she worked to establish a President‘s Club as well as other significant contributions to the university and the community.

In spring of 1993, a Mayoral Proclamation declared March to be "Lorrie Mortimer Month" and named her an honorary special citizen of Bellingham. She was also recognized for active service on the boards of Whatcom Literacy Council, St. Luke‘s Foundation, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and the Volunteer Health Resources Network, along with other community service activities.

Lorrie is survived by her husband; daughter Lisa (David) Holman and grandson David Paul Holman of Lynnwood, Wash.; nephew Michael Otsuji and niece Teri Kalama of Honolulu; and numerous other relatives. She was preceded in death by her father and mother, Ernest and Hazel (Nakazawa) Murai, and sisters Ernestine Kozuma and Jeanette DeMello.

Donations may be made to the Mortimer Endowment at Western Washington University or the University of Hawaiʻi, or donate blood to the local blood bank.

Those wishing to share their thoughts and memories with the Mortimer family can do so by signing a memorial guestbook at

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