The following obituary appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser, concerning John DeSoto, Sr., the father of the well-known 1970s motocrosser of the same name.
By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer
John "Cobra" DeSoto Sr., 81, motorcycle racing pioneer and co-founder of the Hawai'i Motorsports Association, died on June 25 at his home in Wai'anae.
He was the husband of Adelaide "Frenchy" DeSoto, former chairwoman and founding member of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the father of John DeSoto Jr., former Honolulu city councilman.
"To him family was very important," Frenchy said. "He had some old-fashioned ideas. He thought if a man marries and has children, he must work to support them. And he must work at all costs to pay for things."
She said a friend once let him ride a motorcycle, and from that point on, he became hooked on bikes.
DeSoto became the patriarch of one of Hawai'i's noted motorcycle racing families. With his wife working as a motorcycle racing official, DeSoto competed alongside his sons John Jr., Ronald and Bruce, who were all competitive cyclists.
He was the cycling inspiration of John Jr., who from 1969 to 1971 was American Motorcycling Champion.
"When I was like 5 years old, he put me on a Harley Davidson with a suicide clutch," recalled the former champion, who described his dad as a happy-go-lucky guy who never had an enemy in the world.
"I couldn't even touch the ground. He stepped off and let it go. I ended up running into 55-gallon drums. Frenchy kicked his butt to kingdom come for it. But that's what qualified me for politics — the brain concussions," he said.
The elder DeSoto, a retired equipment mechanic and member of the Local 3 Hawai'i Operating Engineers, was born on July 24, 1924, in the village of Honohina on the Big Island.
DeSoto arrived on O'ahu prior to World War II, and during the war he was stationed at Kane'ohe with the Army, his wife said.
He is survived by his wife, four sons, two daughters, two brothers, a sister, 16 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.
There will be a 6 to 9 p.m. visitation on Tuesday at the Mililani Mortuary Mauka Chapel, and again at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, followed by funeral services at 11:45 a.m.
Burial will be at 12:30 p.m. at Mililani Memorial Park. Aloha attire requested.