Las Vegas Hilton
(Las Vegas, Nevada)
Lee Burnet, member of the newly formed Bruin golf team, putts for an even par on the ninth green of the Waiehu Golf Course in a match against the St. Anthony Trojans. [circa 1966]
Born in Waihee and the second oldest in a family of five brothers and two sisters, my mother was pure Hawaiian and my dad was Scottish-Irish. I have fond memories of growing up on Maui. Living in Wailuku during my elementary school days at Wailuku Elementary and then Iao School. During most of my high school years, I lived in Kahului. I remember at age11 spending a lot of time at the Waiehu Golf Course, as a caddy carrying a golfer’s bag for 18 holes and earning $2.00.
I would also find golf balls in the forest (1st hole), in the swamp (2nd hole) in the ocean (holes 6 thru 8). I would sell these ball for ten cents to a quarter, depending upon the quality of the ball. It was a fun way to make money, it kept me out of trouble and helped me learn the game of golf, which I still love to this day. When I come back to Maui for a visit, I still enjoy going down to the Waiehu Golf Course and look for golf balls in the shoreline at the beach. For me it was good therapy.
"I would be at the beach skin diving or surfing"
I feel very fortunate to have grown up during those years on Maui when life was so simple. We had black and white T.V. with only 3 channels, so I don’t remember watching a lot of T.V. but I do remember spending a lot of time outdoors.
If I wasn’t shooting baskets, I was at the golf course, I was playing tennis or I would be at the beach skin diving or surfing. Back in those days you could go into a relative’s or neighbor’s backyard and pick mangos, papayas, guava and lilikoi off the tree for free, anytime you wanted.
I spent a lot of time with an uncle who practically raised me, the late Danny Kapoi, the musician. He was an excellent golfer and fisherman as well. I was his shadow and I learned to appreciate the game of golf because of him.
I definitely wasn't "into" school
Most of my classmates would remember me as the tall, skinny, quiet and shy boy. They would also be surprise to learn that with the amount of demerits I had accumulated, I barely made it through high school. I’m embarrassed to admit this but there were times when I would play hooky to play golf or go surfing if “the surf was up”. I definitely wasn’t “into” school
"..Dang Tam, Vietnam, did my time and was honorably discharged..." [circa 1969]
After graduating in 1966 I moved to Oahu for a short time before joining the Army in Jan.1968 as a Military Policeman. A year later I was shipped off to Vietnam, did my time and was honorably discharged in 1971.
I married a California born girl and spent the next 12 years in the San Jose area. I considered a career in law enforcement after the service but I had other aspirations. People have told me for years that I look like a "cop". My first son, Bryce (Kaohulani)was born in 1974, followed by my other son Brandon (Kalani), eight years later.
With my Military Police (MP) buddies
Fort Gordon, GA.
from the "fire into the frying pan.."
While in college, working on my Business Management degree in San Jose, I became a part owner in new Mexican restaurant (Dos Pecos), where I learned how to prepare the Americanized version of Mexican food. I saved all the recipes and when I cook it now, it’s a real treat for my family. I spent a few more years managing restaurants and then became a bartender. After a while I just got “burnt out” from the late nights and long hours.
So I went from the “fire into the frying pan” and got into the insurance business. For the next 13 years as a agent, I specialized in retirement and estate planning.
Insurance, Regional Manager
In 1983, I was transferred to Oahu and became the Regional Manager for the Honolulu office with the company I was working for. Unfortunately, I soon became divorced from my first wife a few months later. I firmly believe that things happen for a reason and a few months later I met my future second wife, Dorinda, whom I hired to work in my office.
San Jose, CA with first born, Bryce. [circa 1977]
After three yearsof traveling inter-island, due to the nature of my business and not feeling settled, I was recruited by an executive headhunter who lured me back to California (Fresno) with “an offer I couldn’t refuse” working as a District Manager for my biggest competitor.
It was great for a while and I lived closer to my sons (who lived three hours away), but I was under a lot more stress. I also had the urge to “do my own thing” and decided to operate my own insurance agency in Fresno.
Our first date.
Dorinda and I with her kids.
Dorinda and I at an awards ceremony
La Costa Spa and Resort.
"In 1988 I married Dorinda...." Our wedding in Lake Tahoe, with all the kids. [circa 1988]
In 1988 I married Dorinda (10 years my junior, a former Aloha Bowl Queen and 1976 Kam School Grad) in Lake Tahoe with all the kids present. I inherited a daughter (5 years old) Daysha, now 28 and son (3 years old) Kalani, now 26. We had a daughter together (Brianne) who is now 20 years old.
I ended up teaching Dorinda the business and she was able to help me with the agency.
Youngest daughter Brianne at home.
Mom in middle surrounded by all the kids.
"..Security Department at the Las Vegas Hilton."
After years of night work and traveling, we decided to retire from the insurance business and move to Las Vegas to start new careers. Dorinda became a florist, which she loves and I went into the gaming business. For nearly thirteen years I’ve worked in the Security Department at the Las Vegas Hilton. It’s interesting work and often very challenging.
In the early years I was privileged to work in high profile positions in the exclusive Hilton’s Sky Villas on the 30th floor (formerly Elvis Presley’s penthouse), where I would “baby-sit” and escort a lot of high rollers, high profile celebrities and entertainers. It’s difficult to relate to the high rollers (who came from all over the world) because you see them lose millions of dollars on a Baccarat table like it was no big deal. There isn’t much that impresses these people because they have it all and they’ve seen it all.
Christmas with daughter Brianne, Lee, Dorinda, son Kalani and wife Carol, daughter Daysha with fiance Brandon and granddaughter Carolyn in the front. [circa 2008]
Brianne and I at the Barry Manilow Show
Las Vegas Hilton, NV.
Sienna Golf Resort.
My Las Vegas Hilton golf team.
Las Vegas, NV
Sabas Quiray, Bernardo Feig, Lee Burnet, Ed Pimentel
Golf Tournament at the 40th BHS Class of 1966 Reunion
Las Vegas, NV
Specialized training. Over the years I’ve received specialize training and learned to conduct security investigations with numerous guest complaints involving property damage or loss, guest accidents, injury or illnesses.
As a Security Investigator, I’ve learned the “little things” a guest should know when they stay in a hotel, but no one tells them. I have an e-book in the works about this subject that I hope to finish some day. Some of this information may be “common sense” stuff, but I learned over the years that when people come to Las Vegas (unless they are seasoned travelers) and they get caught up in the glitz and glamour, they don’t often think straight.
[Editor's Note: See BHS Newsletter / Holoholo Travelers / Hotel Ins & Outs]
I guess as we get older,
we become philosophical about life in general
and the things we learned along the way.
When I was in sales for a few years, I learned from my mentor that “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”
I always remembered that.
Another one I liked is “If you want your life to get better, then improve someone else’s life” and
"If you help enough people succeed. you will also succeed" I sometimes go out of my way to do at least one good deed a day. It may be something simple like fixing dinner or washing my wife’s car, but it make me feel good and everyone benefits.
I also find that as I get older, it’s the little things that impress me and make me feel good. Just dropping a card in the mail, to say “thanks, I appreciate what you did” or “I’m honored to be your friend” “I enjoyed our visit”, makes the sender as well as the recipient, feel good. I was never very good at corresponding and like most people, I got hooked on email. I've since learned that nothing can replace the written note and that special card. It's much more personal than email. Anyone who wants to drop me a line, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your home address and I'll send you a card in return.