Tech prof accepts sociology
honor on singer Don Ho's behalf
By Sally Harris
Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 15 - December 11, 1997
A Virginia Tech professor recently accepted an award for an internationally famous singer.
Most everyone knows who Don Ho is--the world-famous singer and entertainer from Hawaii. What most people may not know is that Ho also is a sociologist by training. He received a B.S. from the University of Hawaii with a major in sociology in 1954. Proud of his educational specialty, Ho often speaks of it in his supper club act, according to Clifton D. Bryant, professor of sociology at Virginia Tech.
After being in the audience at one of the singer's shows, Bryant relayed the information to one of his professional organizations, the Mid-South Sociological Association. The executive council of the organization took a serious look at Ho's life and career since he left college and decided that his continued identification with the discipline of sociology should be appropriately recognized.
Accordingly, the organization, a professional society of mostly academic sociologists ranging from Oklahoma to Virginia, this year created a new award, the Mid-South Sociological Association Citizen-Sociologist Award, to be conferred on an occasional basis to individuals who received a sociological education and did not become an academician, but pursued another kind of career and established a record of distinguished contributions to society through substantial and exemplary public or professional service, using their sociological training and thought. The group felt that Ho met these criteria in a very significant fashion, Bryant said, and chose him to be the first recipient of the award.
In the proclamation that accompanied the award, the professional group noted Ho's service as an officer and aircraft commander in the U.S. Air Force, his travel to Vietnam during the war to entertain U.S. troops, which resulted in his receiving the Army Civilian Service Award, and his public acknowledgment of the value of his training in sociology. The proclamation also spoke of Ho's "sociological insight, his humane sensitivity, solicitude for the young, and deference for the elderly." Through these things, the proclamation decreed, "Mr. Donald Tai Loy Ho has significantly contributed to public regard for sociology."
Because of a busy schedule, Ho was unable to attend the annual convention of the Mid-South Sociological Association to accept the award personally. Instead he requested that the member of the association who had originally suggested the creation of the award accept it in his behalf.
Bryant accepted the award at the convention, while strains of Ho's theme song, "Tiny Bubbles," echoed in the background. Bryant ended his acceptance comments on Ho's behalf with the singer's own words, "Mahalo for your kokua, and aloha!" ("Thanks for your help, and goodbye.")