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Originally published Sunday, February 24, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Church leader Kela Hughes, 22, embraced Hawaiian roots

Donations to a memorial fund established in memory of 22-year-old Kela Kanoeanuhea Hughes, of Redmond, will go toward creating a memorial...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Donations to a memorial fund established in memory of 22-year-old Kela Kanoeanuhea Hughes, of Redmond, will go toward creating a memorial in her name at a Christian camp north of Athens, Greece.

She had visited Porto Astro, the camp and retreat center for church-group outings, a number of times, "and it was her favorite place, besides Hawaii," said her mother, Holly Hughes.

Family and friends are mourning the death of Miss Hughes, killed the morning of Feb. 15 — the day after her parents' 27th wedding anniversary — in a single-car accident on Redmond's Union Hill. She was en route to work on church business when her vehicle spun out of control, rolled over and landed in a ditch.

A service will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at Northshore Baptist Church, 10301 N.E. 145th St., in Bothell.

Born and raised in the Northwest, Miss Hughes, the second-eldest of five children, was an avid member of Kirkland's Antioch Bible Church, where she was a group leader for a weekly Wednesday night high-school Bible study, known as RIM (Radical Impact Ministries).

"She grew up in that group and then became a leader," said her mother. She also had mentored high-school girls at Antioch Church for the past three years, her mother said.

Her father, David Hughes, a former Seattle Seahawks fullback from 1981 to 1985, has been mission pastor at Antioch for almost a decade, and the entire family has been involved in mission work.

"She was in charge of coordinating a number of mission trips around the world," including handling itineraries and managing finances, said her mother. "Greece was close to her heart," the mother said. "She grew up in the church. Whatever we've done, we've done it together."

Miss Hughes, a 2004 graduate of Eastlake High School in Sammamish, who went on to earn an associate degree last year from Bellevue Community College, also was a gifted photographer who loved the outdoors and astronomy.

Because of her parents' Hawaiian roots, she had immersed herself in the Hawaiian culture, "and one of her many hobbies and loves was dancing hula," said her mother.

"She had a way of relating to students," said fellow church member and group leader Rob Faucette, of Bellevue. "She was a servant, and she was willing to do anything for the girls she mentored," he said. "We were more family than friends."

Miss Hughes had planned to enroll in the University of Hawaii in the fall, Faucette said, and she had indicated plans to major in history and become a high-school teacher.

Besides her parents, she is survived by an elder sister, Lahela Tagaroulias, of Athens, Greece; and three younger brothers, Keoni, Kaniela and Iokepa Hughes, all of the Redmond family home.

Family members said a camp building at Porto Astro will be named in her memory. Contributions to her memorial fund may be sent to any Washington Mutual Savings Bank.

Charles E. Brown: 206-464-2206 or cbrown@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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