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The life of polio survivor and former Hawaiʻi First Lady Beatrice Burns

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Courtesy Emme Tomingbang
Then-Hawaiʻi First Lady Beatrice Burns

When Queen Elizabeth II and her son Prince Charles visited Hawaiʻi in 1963, then-Gov. John A. Burns and first lady Beatrice Burns greeted the royals. The Conversation talked with local broadcaster Emme Tomingbang — who was married to their son, the late Hawaiʻi Chief Justice James “Jim” Burns. Tomingbang has fond memories of her mother-in-law Beatrice Burns. Hawaiʻi’s first lady, who was also a nurse, lived with polio and hosted dignitaries from her wheelchair.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Sept. 8, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at
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