Robert F. Liko Self was born to Louis T. Self and Bernice Kealanohea Bayless Self on Oct. 27, 1949, on the island of Molokai, Hawaii, and past away on June 3, 2020, in Friday Harbor, Washington. He was 70 years old.
His early years were spent on Kauai running bare foot through the grass where he attended the Kapaa Mission School, K-7. In 1963 he was accepted into Kamehameha School for Boys as a border. At the time, KSB was a military school where, as a senior, he grudgingly attained the rank of sergeant and graduated in 1967.
Shortly after graduation Liko joined the U.S. Coast Guard. His duty stations included Spain, near the Strait of Gibraltar, Honolulu, Hawaii, aboard a cutter, and Cape Disappointment, Washington, in the state which was eventually to become his home.
Liko attended the University of Hawaii-Hilo, where he received his undergraduate degree then went on to the University of Washington for graduate work in marine biology where he attained his Masters in 1977. In his spare time Liko built a sailboat from plans in a part of Seattle that was questionable but affordable. In the early 1980s he sailed solo from Seattle, down the coast, then headed West toward Hawaii. It took him about 40 days or so but he finally made it to the Big Island. He later said that he fell asleep and nearly sailed past South Point but luckily was able to navigate back to Hilo. After resting and restocking he sailed, again solo, back to Seattle. The journey was his single proudest moment and accomplishment.
Liko loved Friday Harbor and working at the lab. He was a mechanical thinker and was in his environment working on something in his building. He enjoyed the challenge of cobbling something together to meet the goal. Even in the past few years he kept that old Toyota truck going not because he had to but because it kept his mind active and kept him challenged.
Liko enjoyed the company of friends and acquaintances who could engage in meaningful conversation. This was another reason he loved working at the lab because of this kind of stimulation. Hawaiians have a word called “mana” which roughly translated means having meaningful work to do and enjoying harmonious relationships with those around you. Those of you here at the lab unknowingly provided that mana to Liko. He worked a short time for NOAA in Seattle but left because, at that stage in his life, he was frustrated and simply didn’t want to deal with the federal bureaucracy. He returned to his home in Friday Harbor and lived out the rest of his life surrounded by the place he loved and people that cared for him.
Robert Liko Self is survived by his sister Catherine May Lahilahi Self Afu; brother Lance P. Lono Self; two nieces; five nephews; four grand-nieces; and two grand-nephews.
He will be remembered and missed by all.