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Veteran Journalist Emme Tomimbang Burns Dies at 73

Hawaiʻi broadcast veteran Emmeline Tomimbang Burns died on February 19, at the Queen’s Medical Center during emergency aortic surgery.

As a teen Tominbang hosted her own radio show on KNDI. interviewed international celebrities at KITV, launched the Morning News on KHON Channel 2, and founded her own production company, Emme Tomimbang Multi-Media Enterprises (EMME, Inc.).

She was the widow of the late Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Judge James S. Burns, son of Hawaiʻi Governor John A. Burns.

Her recent years were dedicated to philanthropy, establishing endowments and scholarships. At the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), she honored the Kahanamoku legacy with scholarships for Native Hawaiian students and created the Burns-Tomimbang scholarship for JABSOM medical students committed to serving the Filipino community.

Raised in the Kalihi-Palama area of Oʻahu, Tomimbang graduated from from Farrington High School and went on to attend Leeward Community College and graduate from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 1973.

In 2014, she was honored with the UH Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Awards in recognition of her outstanding alumni accomplishments, inspirational leadership and service to the university and the community.

In a written statement Hawaiʻi Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald said this of Tomimbang, “I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing on Monday of Emme Tomimbang Burns. Emme was a force of nature. From her work in the media to her support of the medical school, her warmth and passion energized all who came in contact with her. Emme’s light also shone brightly on the Judiciary. Emme will be greatly missed and we extend our deepest aloha and heartfelt sympathy to her family.”

Governor Green released the following statement on the passing of Emme Tomimbang :

From her early days on the anchor desk for TV news to later producing television specials, Emme told stories from her heart. She tackled some tough subjects as a broadcast journalist, but also shared stories of compelling island people in her “Emme’s Island Moments” specials and that is how most people knew her. Privately, as the wife of former Intermediate Court of Appeals Chief Judge, the late James Burns, she became an important part of the state Judiciary ʻohana. The Office of the Governor joins Hawaiʻi in mourning the passing of a dear, caring storyteller and friend.”

Details regarding Tomimbang’s memorial service will be provided at a later date.


Photo credit: University of Hawaiʻi

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