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Leaving a Legacy of Peace

By Alma Tassi


When someone’s life embodies service above self—they leave an indelible mark on the many lives transformed by their everyday actions.

Mark Harbison was a devoted husband, an advocate of peace, and a relentless community contributor. For two decades, he worked as a Realtor Broker with Coldwell Banker Island Properties, while also providing steadfast support for many causes that were dear to him. Last December, he passed away after a long illness, but his legacy continues to inspire others.

Photo credit: Donna Kennedy-Glans

Mark Harbison's widow Lisa Oyama stands by the Peace Pole erected in his honor at Wailuku Hongwanji. In eight languages the inscription on the pole says May Peace Prevail on Earth.

PC: Donna Kennedy-Glans

For 10 years, he served as President of the Maui Food Bank, dedicated to food insecurity. He was an active member of Rotary Peace Initiatives globally and created lasting connections with Rotarians in many countries. Projects included global grants for safe water in Nepal and local grants for health fairs for children in Maui. Despite living with challenging health issues, he never let this stop him from making a difference as just one person.

Instrumental in promoting peace, Mark helped Rotary Clubs with guidance, training, and mentorship. Rotary Eco Club of Maui’s Wendy Hornack shared, “He always lent a helping hand to others and other clubs. I wouldn’t be where I am today in Rotary without Mark and many others feel the same. He always encouraged me and believed in me.”

Mark received a 2017 Peace Hero Award, Maui Seasons for Peace, and a Special Recognition from Gov. David Ige who declared, “With ‘Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things,’ our community becomes a better place for generations to come. Your efforts to promote peace and non-violence throughout our Aloha State and the world is greatly appreciated. Mahalo for your leadership and commitment.”

Mark purchased a Peace Pole intending to plant it in a significant and visible location. Peace Poles were started in Japan after WWII as a way to promote peace around the world. They have inscriptions in usually 8 languages that say: May Peace Prevail on Earth.

The Peace Pole was Mark’s final rotary project and one he had been looking forward to celebrating. After his passing his funeral service was held at the Wailuku Hongwanji. In honor of Mark, the Pole was planted on their grounds, with a plaque that says: In honor of Mark Harbison and all champions of Peace. A ceremony was held on November 18 with blessings provided by Reverend Murakami of the Hongwanji, and Kimokeo Kapahulehua, an honorary Rotarian and leader in the Native Hawaiian community. Approximately 50 people attended the ceremony, including Mark's wife Lisa Oyama, fellow realtors and board members of the Maui Food Bank, and members of five of the Rotary Clubs on Maui.

At this year's 2023 Rotary Hawaii conference, a new annual award called The Mark Harbison Award for Best International Service Project was created to honor him. Oyama shares, “I am proud of Mark. He had a vision – actually, several – and showed what just one person can accomplish to create a kinder, better world. Mark knew that he could make a difference, and did.”

Realtor means a member of the National Association of Realtors. Do you know a Realtors Association of Maui member who should be recognized for their contributions to the community? If so, send your story idea to Alma Tassi at

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