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Remembering Christopher J. Canepa

Chris' Final Sail - June 2023

HUGS & ALOHA! Until we meet again

As I mark my upcoming 47 th year in business, I am sharing the loss of my dear brother, Chris, who passed away in Honolulu on Wednesday September 13. He fought a valiant fight and as his body was failing, he held on to wait for my brothers Jim & Tony and Tony’s wife, Sheila, to arrive from the mainland. Chris was also surrounded in love by his beautiful daughter, Kimberly, and had been visited daily by his two loving grandchildren, Kira and baby John and her husband John and her mother Janice.


I was lucky to have made the trip to Honolulu for Chris’ 79th birthday on June 4th. My sister Bertie and I were able to be with him and his family to take a Hawaiian sunset cruise (pictured) and partake in dinners at his favorite restaurants. We reminisced, laughed, and told stories, reliving memories that will last a lifetime.


For those who know us from our dancing theme song, “Whispering”, Bertie and her husband Dennis sent him off with a musical dance tribute (video below). 

Chris was a born leader; he was my inspiration in my life and my business. My only son is named after him. For Chris it may have been challenging to be the oldest in a family with ten siblings. He was a trailblazer, a superhero and shoulder to lean on for our parents and the rest of the lineup. Add to that, while we tried to grow up “normally” in the circus town of Baraboo Wisconsin, we became a tap-dancing performance family; owned, and operated an area-wide dance school and lived most of our lives in the public eye.

Chris traveled the world and was a beacon of light for us all to follow. He joined the U.S. Navy Reserve at 16 following our dad, Tony Sr. into the service. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison and was in UW gymnastics and tumbling, a UW cheerleader and dance captain of the famed UW Haresfoot Dance Troupe. He became intrigued with the Tourism, Hotel and Travel industry and made a career in Hotel & Restaurant Management, graduating with a degree in the profession. He led tour
groups throughout the US, Hawaii, Mexico, all parts of Europe, UK, Ireland & Scotland, Asia, North and South America. His passports were suitable for framing, and he never forgot the rest of us, inviting us all to visit him wherever he landed. He made sure we visited him to experience his worldwide experiences and that we followed him out of town! Follow him I did as I chose to move to Chicago during and after graduating from the UW Madison. I joined my late sister Mary and along with Chris, experienced all things the windy city had to offer!


I am so very blessed that Chris was my older brother, he was my biggest cheerleader and friend. To our delight, his daughter Kimberly carries on his traditions as she has had a distinctive career in Hospitality, Fundraising and Tourism. Her background included the President of Junior Achievement of Hawaii, Director of Annual Giving at Chaminade University, Chief Operating Officer Girl Scouts of Hawaii, and numerous projects that made her dad and all of us tremendously proud. The apple of Chris’ eye,
this apple did not fall very far from the tree. In 2022, Kim began her own Event Planning business Elevate Events Hawaii.


A private memorial will be held in Honolulu in November and a gathering celebration in Baraboo, Wisconsin next summer.


Share your memory to the online obituary to be included inside this special keepsake book by clicking here: Christopher J. Canepa Memories

Top left: Jane, Bertie and Chris - Celebrating Chris' Birthday in Hawaii, 2023 
Bottom left: Chris and daughter Kim in Hawaii, 2007

Right: Bertie Canepa Reifsteck and Dennis Reifsteck "whispering" tribute video

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Christopher J. Canepa age 79 passed away of natural causes on September 13, 2023, at Tripler Army Medical Center surrounded by his beloved daughter Kimberly Canepa Morris and family members.


Born on June 4, 1944 in Madison, WI to LT. Anthony C. Canepa (USN) and Alberta (Verthein) Canepa, he was the eldest of 11 siblings raised in Baraboo, WI. Chris joined the US Navy Reserve and served his active duty in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Theatres attaining the Radarman Rate. After attending the UW- Madison as an engineering student, Chris transferred to Miami-Dade College to study the tourism/hotel hospitality industry graduating with a degree in Hotel Restaurant Management.


Chris led tour groups throughout the continental U.S., Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Hawaii. He held positions with the Fairmont Hotels, the Biltmore, Inter-Continental Hotels, E.F. Mac Donald Incentive Travel, Doral Resort & Country Club, Hilton Hotel Corp, and Hyatt Regency both stateside and internationally.


After his position as Director of Sales with Hyatt Regency Acapulco he relocated to Hawaii, where the beautiful shores, people and culture of Hawaii made an imprint on his heart. With over 8 years with the Sheraton Hotel Corporation in Honolulu and neighbor islands, he sailed, married, and welcomed daughter Kimberly Keiko, his crowning achievement. He joined Reed Travel Group as Marketing Manager and later returned to the mainland for several years and held positions in the tourism industry in Chicago, Colorado, and Wisconsin.


He returned to Honolulu and joined Makani Catamarans for four years - combining his love of sailing with promotion & marketing. For the past 16 years, he was delighted to have Thursday coffee sessions with Kim to reconnect, plan careers, talk story, laugh, and love. More recently with the adoring grandkids in tow, Chris cherished these years.


Chris is survived by his daughter Kimberly Canepa Morris, her husband John Morris, and their children Kira and John V. He is further survived by many siblings, relatives, associates and friends.


Internment and private services will be held at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater of Honolulu, HI. A Mass of Christian burial will be held at the Mystical Rose Oratory at Chaminade University, and a Celebration of Life in Baraboo, WI in the summer of 2024.


Visit to share stories and memories of a man loved by all.

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