Remembering Television Pioneer Emme Tomimbang Burns

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Emmeline Tomimbang Burns – or “Emme” – as everyone knew her, passed away late Monday night at the Queen’s Medical Center while undergoing emergency aortic surgery. 

Emme was 73 years old and the widow of the late Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Judge James S. Burns, son of Hawaiʻi Governor John A. Burns, after whom the University of Hawaiʻi Medical School is named. She was born October 28, 1950 in Honolulu and grew up in Kakaʻako, near the site of the medical school. 

A leader in the Filipino Community and a pioneer in radio and television in the islands, Emme broke barriers for local women by hosting her own radio show on KNDI in her teens, interviewing international celebrities at KITV,  launching the Morning News on KHON Channel 2, and ultimately forming her own production company, Emme Tomimbang Multi-Media Enterprises (EMME, Inc.), providing 20+ years of entertainment of “Emme’s Island Moments” featuring Hawaii’s most well-known and inspiring characters and stories.

Emme spent her recent years establishing and overseeing endowments and scholarships. At JABSOM, she honored the Kahanamoku legacy with scholarships for Native Hawaiian students. She recently established the Burns-Tomimbang scholarship, paving the way for JABSOM medical students committed to serve the Filipino community. 

Emme also gave back to her alma mater, Farrington High School, funding programs to aspiring Filipino doctors and nurses for rural areas, would-be journalists and nurses, and other venues to help those who follow in her footsteps.

Details regarding a memorial service will be provided at a later date. We are grateful for Emme’s many contributions to improving health for our communities and offer our sincere condolences to Emme’s large `ohana.