HONOLULU -- No man is an island. But in Hawaii, Daniel K. Inouye sure seems like one.
After he died last week at 88, this state went into a mourning period usually reserved for monarchs and presidents. His remains were flown to four islands so people could pay their respects, like Abraham Lincoln's cross-country journey by train after he was assassinated.
When his coffin was carried into the state Capitol, the local news stations all broadcast the live scene. And on the day he was honored at a memorial service at the veterans' cemetery here, Honolulu city buses flashed "Mahalo Dan" on their electric displays, using the Hawaiian expression for "Thank you."
They have good reason to be thankful.
Hawaii has had only six United States senators since it became a state in 1959. And since 1962, Mr. Inouye had been one of them, all the while heaping the federal government's largess on his small state.
When he died, he was the senior member of the Senate, the second-longest serving member in the Senate's history, and the chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, the ideal perch for directing billions of federal dollars back home.
The state ranked the highest by far in per-capita federal earmark spending, according to the most recent figures from Taxpayers for Common Sense. The $412 million spent on Hawaii in 2010, before a moratorium on earmarks went into effect, was equal to almost $320 for each of the state's 1.3 million people. (North Dakota was second, at about $233 per person.)
Hawaii, it is often joked here, has three industries: tourism, the military and Dan Inouye.
But with his death and the retirement of the state's other senator, Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii will lose all of its seniority in the Senate, raising concerns here that the influence the state has accumulated over the last half-century will be greatly diminished and that federal aid will be harder to obtain.
"Going from first to last is a hard pill to swallow," said Justin Hughey, a teacher from Maui who sits on the central committee of the state's Democratic Party. "With all the money Dan was able to raise, those are some big shoes to fill."
Mr. Inouye's appointed successor, Brian Schatz, was sworn in on Thursday. Representative Mazie Hirono, a Democrat who was elected in November to replace Mr. Akaka, will be sworn in when the new Congress meets next week.
Like many people here, Mr. Hughey can point to a particular project that he associates with Mr. Inouye. For him, it was the Lahaina Bypass, a highway on Maui that helped alleviate traffic congestion. "That money wouldn't have been there if it weren't for Dan," he said. "There's no bridge to nowhere here."
Mr. Inouye, who lost his right arm in combat during World War II, also persuaded the United States military to leave its bases in Hawaii open, even though the state is no longer as vital for strategic defense purposes. The Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marine Corps all maintain installations here.
"There were several times that there was talk of Pearl Harbor being shut down, but he protected us from that," said Jeanne Ishikawa, who attended a memorial service for Mr. Inouye on Oahu over the weekend. "What he did is huge. You can't define it. You can't quantify it."
Complicating matters even more, the state's House delegation will be especially junior in the next Congress. Colleen Hanabusa, 61, a Democrat, will be the state's senior representative, but she will be in only her second term. Tulsi Gabbard, 31, who will succeed Ms. Hirono, was just elected in November.
If Hawaii's loss of seniority is worrying some residents, its elected officials are putting on stone faces. "Let's not be wringing our hands," Ms. Hirono said. "He would expect us to show strength and to build on the foundation he laid."
Gov. Neil Abercrombie, himself a former member of the House, characterized the seniority shifts as an inevitable changing of the guard. "Between Tulsi Gabbard coming in at 31 in the House and Brian Schatz coming into the Senate at 40, we're investing in the long run," said Mr. Abercrombie, who decided to appoint Mr. Schatz, his lieutenant governor, this week. "Sooner or later, it has to begin again. That's what we're doing. We're not whining. We're not complaining."
Hawaiians often describe Mr. Inouye's contributions as immeasurable or unquantifiable. In one way, they are.
Unlike Senators Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia or Ted Stevens of Alaska, whose legacies of pork barrel spending are evident in the structures named for them, Mr. Inouye's name appears on almost nothing here. A soft-spoken man whose small stature belied his influence, Mr. Inouye was always reluctant to herald his work.
But there is already talk of memorializing him. "I guess we'll have to name a highway after him, or put up a statue," said Grace Fujii, whose father is a veteran of the same Army combat team as Mr. Inouye. "But he'd probably say, 'Who, me? Why?' "
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.