Ah Quon McElrath: In Love with the Arts
While Ah Quon McElrath is widely remembered as a union organizer and a champion for social justice, she also had a deep and abiding love of the arts. This love began in childhood. s a student at Kaʻiulani Elementary School during the Great Depression, she remembered with fondness her participation in plays and musicals. She also developed a love of classical music and opera at an early age. Her older sister had purchased a gramophone and recordings of various operatic arias that Ah Quon learned to cherish. In her high school years, her love of literature, and Shakespeare in particular, deepened. As an adult, Ah Quon remained a voracious reader and music lover, and sang in the Honolulu Choir.
She was a lifelong supporter of the Honolulu Symphony and rarely missed a performance. She firmly believed that the arts should be available to all social classes, not just the wealthy. Ah Quon confided to a friend that she was able to sustain her tireless work ethic because of the refuge and renewal she found in the beauty of the arts. (Photo credits: Hawaiʻi State Archives)