Richard Frankel

Richard “Dick” Irving Frankel (June 9, 1939- February 1, 2022) of Honolulu passed away peacefully after a prolonged battle with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. His loving wife Donna was at his side.

An internationally regarded infectious disease specialist, avid traveler, wine enthusiast, and self-proclaimed citizen of the earth, Dr. Frankel cherished every breath to his last. He was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio by his widowed single-mother and a beloved uncle. Whether pursuing undergraduate and medical studies at Yale University, a residency and Infectious Disease Fellowship at Stanford, or playing a pivotal role in establishing the 4-year curriculum at the University of Hawai’i John A. Burns School of Medicine, he approached every opportunity with a palpable passion and charisma.

Dr. Frankel’s expertise in tuberculosis, Hansen’s disease, and other communicable diseases led to his serving as a consultant for the World Health Organization, Thailand, Guam, and island nations in Oceania. Having caught the travel bug after participating in the inaugural camp of the Children’s International Summer Villages and meeting children from seven European countries and Mexico at age 12, he cultivated a passion for travel and culture that persisted throughout his life. He found the positives of having been drafted to serve in Vietnam by using every free opportunity to travel around the region. He also visited more than 100 countries and territories and traveled to all seven continents at least once. He never shied away from adventure, trekking some of the most noteworthy mountains and ranges on the planet, and experiencing awe-inspiring animal encounters across the globe. These international experiences were made even more rewarding by the companionship and adventurous spirit of his intrepid wife, Donna.

Richard and Donna were together for more than 30 years. In addition to Donna, he is survived by his daughter Caitlin Rowe (and her husband, David) of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and their daughter Ellie; by his stepson Gavin Hamano (and his wife, Megan) of Sacramento, California; and by his stepdaughter Tara Hirohata and her son Makana of Honolulu. The greatest sadness of his life was being predeceased by his son Seth Frankel of Auburn, Washington. Seth is survived by Dr. Frankel’s granddaughters Abigail and Maile Frankel of Seattle, Washington, making a total of four beloved grandchildren. His family was always the most important thing in his life.

Out of respect for Dr. Frankel’s impressive career dedicated to infectious disease study and prevention, and the ongoing pandemic, there will be no memorial service at this time. A celebration of life may be planned at a future date. In the meantime, all are invited to cherish each breath you have the privilege to take, treat each other with kindness and respect, mask up, vax up, dance to your favorite Beatles song, and raise a glass of Barolo wine in his memory.

If you would like to receive details about a future celebration of life, please email to share your contact information.

Arrangements Provided By:
Nuuanu Memorial Park & Mortuary LLC