Public invited to celebration of Betty Ann Bruno’s life

“Aunt Betty (used endearingly) exuded aloha: It was all around her,” said musician Patrick Landeza, who will be participating in a celebration of Betty Ann Bruno’s life at Sonoma Veterans Memorial Building. ”My mother loved her. Now it’s our kuleana (responsibility) to carry on the work Aunt Betty did.”|

The public is invited to celebrate the storied life of multiple Emmy Award-winning news reporter, hula instructor and child actress Betty Ann Bruno next month in Sonoma.

It will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 10, at Sonoma Veterans Memorial Building, 126 First St. W. in Sonoma. Bruno, a Sonoma Valley resident, died following a heart attack on Sunday, July 30.

The service will be conducted by Mahealani Uchiyama, an award-winning dancer, musician, composer, choreographer, recording artist, author and teacher. She is the founder and artistic director of Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance in Berkeley as well as the creator and director of its annual Kapili Polynesian Dance and Music Workshops. Uchiyama is also the kumu hula (hula teacher) at Halau Ka Ua Tuahina in Berkeley.

“I will be sharing memories of Betty Ann as a teacher and personal friend,” said Uchiyama, who knew Bruno for more than 20 years. “Our relationship developed because of our mutual interest in hula.”

Uchiyama added, “She was sweet and down to earth — and she lived so many lives!” referring to Bruno’s rich, multifaceted career.

Berkeley native Patrick Landeza, a contemporary Hawaiian slack key guitarist, will provide a “talk story” during the service. He is the first mainland-born Hawaiian to win a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award. Sometimes called the Na Hoku Awards or Hoku Awards, they are the premier music awards in Hawaii and are considered to be its equivalent of the Grammy Awards.

Landeza’s mother, Frances Landeza, was a close friend of Bruno and together they took hula classes from renowned teacher Ida Wong Gonsalves in Northern California.

“During my talk story, I’ll share stories from the 1970s about them,” Landeza said. “Aunt Betty (used endearingly) exuded aloha: It was all around her. My mother loved her. Now it’s our kuleana (responsibility) to carry on the work Aunt Betty did.”

Hawaiian-style dress is suggested for the celebration. Patrick Landeza Catering will provide light afternoon lunch fare, featuring Hawaiian dishes. Sonoma Veterans Memorial Building is an alcohol-free venue.

Bruno was born in Wahiawa on the Hawaii island of Oahu in 1931 to a Dutch-Irish father and a Chinese-Hawaiian mother. Her family moved to Hollywood when she was a young girl, and she began taking singing and dancing lessons. This led to a role as a child Munchkin in the classic film, “The Wizard of Oz” in 1939.

At KTVU-TV in Oakland, Bruno covered stories of national and local importance and won three Emmys: for breaking news, news-feature series and investigative series.

Bruno retired from her television career in 1992 and moved to Sonoma with husband Craig Scheiner 10 years later. She opened Hula Mai in Sonoma, which offers classes in both modern and ancient hula to inspire a love for the hula and the culture of Native Hawaii.

Donations in remembrance of Betty Ann should be sent to Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance, 1800 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94703. The center can also be reached at 510-845-2605.

Reach the reporter, Dan Johnson, at

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