Elizabeth Jessamine Kauikeolani Low “was named Clorinda by (her) father, as a nickname, way back when (she) was about six years old. (They) were living on a ranch, (she) loved horses, and had a very bad temper.”
“(Her father) read a book in which a child the same age had the same characteristics and was called Clorinda. So he called (her) Clorinda and it seems to be the one name that stuck all through (her) life”. (Lucas; Watumull)
She was born in Honolulu on August 9, 1895. Her father was Ebenezer Parker (Rawhide Ben) Low – he was married to Elizabeth Pu‘uki Napoleon (“really Napoli. … Became known as Napoleon later.”)
“(Her mother) was always known as Lizzie Low. (Her) mother’s people were not well known to us because she was hanaied by Judge and Mrs. Sanford B. Dole when she was about twelve years of age [circa 1879].”
“Judge Dole was a teacher at Kawaiaha‘o Sunday School and had in his class a little girl of about six whose name was Lizzie Napoleon. And he became very attached to this little girl so when she got a little older, he asked her mother if she wouldn’t allow her to live with them.”
“She didn’t want to go at first but she did finally become attached to both Judge and Mrs. Dole and lived there until she was married.” (Lucas; Watumull)
“(Her) father was known as Rawhide Ben because ever since he was knee high to a grasshopper, I guess, he loved the ranch life. And he was brought up as a member of the family in Mana and Kamuela with the rest of them.” (Lucas; Watumull)
She married Charles Williams (Charlie) Lucas on July 19, 1924; they had one child Laura Lucas (who later married Myron Bennett (Pinky) Thompson.) (His unusual nickname came from his mother. So convinced that she was pregnant with a girl, she decorated the baby’s room completely in pink and purchased pink clothes. Ever since, her son was known as ‘Pinky.’ (Gordon))
Family ties go back to Alexander Adams and John Palmer Parker. Captain Alexander Adams arrived in the Islands in 1811 on the American trading ship the ‘Albatross’ from Boston.
He became an intimate friend and confidential advisor to King Kamehameha I, who entrusted to him the command of the king’s sandalwood fleet. Lucas, a fourth-generation descendant of the John Palmer Parker family, was a notable community leader.
During most of her adult life, Clorinda Lucas devoted her time and attention to child welfare and the problems of Hawaiian people through the Liliuokalani Trust, the Department of Public Welfare and the Department of Public Instruction.
For three years following her graduation from Smith College (BA degree) in 1917, she Lucas worked in New York City for the national board of the YWCA in the Division of Education for Foreign-born Women. She was the first Hawaiian to have professional social work education. (NASW)
“I was with the Department of Public Welfare, we called it in those days. When I first came back from the New York School [of Social Work] in 1937, my first job was director of the Oahu Department of Public Welfare.”
“And I was there until we reorganized and then we had a social work division and a child welfare division and I don’t know, we had a real change tied in with the Social Security Act. And then I was director of the social work division.”
“And then from there I went into the Department of Education and headed the Division of Pupil Guidance and I was there for seventeen years, then retired in 1960.”
Lucas led the Humane Society. She notes, “My first social work job was with the Humane Society when they took care of children. I was there, I guess, about three or four years and then I went to the New York School [of Social Work] and got my training and then came back to the Department of Public Welfare.” (Lucas; Watumull)
Lucas’ daughter, Laura Thompson later became executive director. “(W)e’ve been tied up with animals just about all our lives and of course I’m very happy to know that Laura’s interested in animals too.” (Lucas; Watumull)
But of all the community projects she worked on and worked for that had been the most gratifying and most satisfying, was “of course my connection with the Liliuokalani Trust (she was Chair of the Board of Trustees) has pretty much circumscribed what is important for me to consider for Hawaiians and that has to do with the orphan and destitute children of Hawaiian blood.” (Lucas; Watumull)
“(Lili‘uokalani’s) Will said to build an orphanage and the orphanage was to be made of fireproof materials and it was to have the name Liliuokalani, no cross or steeple. These were all in her Will. But they just didn’t have enough money to do that.”
“Well, in the meantime it was obvious that children should not be brought up in orphanages, especially babies that have lost their parents. So then they went to court, when there was enough money to do something with it, went to court and got permission from the court to at least take care of the children in a little different way”
“Instead of building an orphanage, to find homes where they could have fairly close relationship with just one or two people instead of many. So this was allowed, with the understanding that the trustees would always have in the back of their minds that someday they would have to build an institution of some sort.” (Lucas; Watumull)
“So, since then, we have worked on this foster care program or adoption program, anything so that you put children with families where they can become an integral part of them.”
“And I would say probably that’s been the most satisfying experience for me. That to see this thing grow from a rather limited concept, which was the thing to do at the time she died, to what you could do today.”
“And I will say that the thing that to me is the most satisfying is we have done some very innovative things and with this trust money.” (Lucas; Watumull)