The Garden Island
Notice #: 0001247506-01
Funeral Notices


University of Hawaii Professor Emeritus Peter Dunn Rankin, 90, passed away November 16, 2019 at his home in Hawaii Kai. Pete was a truly amazing man with a broad spectrum of interests and talents. He excelled as an educator, artist, inventor, writer, sportsman, husband, and father.

Pete was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, on November 16, 1929. He spent much of his childhood with his brothers, Derek and Jonathan, and his good friend, Larry Fuller, exploring the many fishing grounds in Miami, Sarasota, and Winter Park, Florida. Pete attended Florida State University, where he was a mainstay on its NCAA swimming team and made many lifelong friends, including Ken Brewer and Joby Kidd. More importantly, it was there he met the love of his life, Patricia Ann Cummins, whom he married on May 28, 1955. After graduating with a Masters in Psychology, he entered Officer Candidate School and was assigned as a naval officer to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit in Port Townsend, Washington. While stationed there, he invented a cable splice permitting the efficient installation of deep-water magnetic indicator loops to detect enemy ships and submarines.

After leaving the Navy, Pete became a high school teacher in Sarasota, Florida, then earned a Masters in Mathematics from Louisiana State University followed by a Doctorate in Educational Psychology from Florida State University. In 1964, Dr. Dunn-Rankin moved to Oahu, Hawaii, with Pat and their three young children, having accepted a position at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. As a professor at UH for over 40 years, Pete served at various times as Associate Dean of Research, Acting Dean of the College of Education, and Chairman of the Department of Educational Psychology.

Pete’s boyhood passion for fishing expanded exponentially after moving to Oahu. He went on countless fishing expeditions to nearly all the Hawaiian and Micronesian islands, often accompanied by his good friend, Jeff Kohn. Inspired by these experiences, Pete invented the "PILI" and "SuperLolo" surface popping lures, which he used to set seven all tackle and line class world records. This success led to overwhelming demand for his handmade lures and greatly influenced other surface lure designers. Pete wrote numerous articles for Hawaii Fishing News and Salt Water Sportsman sharing his adventures, knowledge, and love of fishing. His 1994 book, Spinning the Reefs, is still the definitive guide for top-water reef fishermen.

Pete was equally passionate about his research work in educational psychology. Most of his research focused on the elements of successful reading practices and the benefits of reading to children at an early age. The establishment of the Eye Tracker Laboratory at the University of Hawaii was based on his discovery of the connection between reading skill and the distribution of visual focal points. Pete was an active member and advocate of the Hawaii Educational Research Association for over four decades. Another of Pete’s accomplishments was his breakthrough work with FSU Professor Frank Wilcoxon on the true distribution of the range of rank sums in statistical analysis. Peter published over 200 research articles and papers and co-authored Scaling Methods, a well-regarded college textbook. After retirement, Pete remained active in academic research and mentored numerous graduate and doctoral students. In 2015, he collaborated on development of the "Obesity quotient" and promoted its use in improving infant health care. In 2017, he proposed and modeled a solution to remove contaminants from the Ala Wai Canal in Honolulu.

Pete was also an accomplished artist, athlete, and storyteller. His paintings, sculptures, and other artwork uniquely captured the marine life, scenery, and people he encountered in his life and travels throughout the Pacific. He hosted five one-man art shows and won numerous awards. Pete was a skilled swimmer, golfer, and tennis player. He represented Hawaii on several occasions at national golf and swimming competitions. At the age of 74, he was a finalist for Hawaii’s senior athlete of the year, having won five gold medals in golf and swimming at the 2003 Hawaiian Senior Olympics. Pete was an excellent storyteller. His family and friends greatly enjoyed his tales of youthful adventures, as well as his numerous short stories and poems.

Pete was proud of his family, all of whom have had successful careers in their own right. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Dr. Patricia Dunn-Rankin, children Denise Cordeiro-Bennett (Steve), Derek Dunn-Rankin (Katherine Martin), and Dean Dunn-Rankin (Patti), as well as seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Pete’s older brother Derek Dunn-Rankin, younger brother Jonathan Dunn-Rankin, and younger sisters Faith Fortune and Nancy Holmes, preceded him in death.

A memorial service will be held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater at a later date. The family asks that Peter be honored, in lieu of flowers, by a contribution to the Peter and Patricia Dunn Rankin Scholarship in Educational Psychology through the University of Hawaii Foundation. Gifts in his memory may be made payable to UH Foundation with a note or cover letter indication "Dunn-Rankin Scholarship Endowment #201-8790-3", and can be sent to UH Foundation, P.O. Box 11270, Honolulu, HI 96828-0270, or you may give online at The eight-digit fund number is 29176903. Oahu Mortuary is handling arrangements; photos and memories may be shared online with families and friends at

Arrangements Provided By: Oahu Mortuary