HONOLULU — Loretta Fuddy, the Hawaii Health Department director who became involved in a national controversy over President Obama’s birthplace, died Wednesday in a small-plane crash off Molokai. She was 65.

She was acting director of the department starting in January 2011, until Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed her to the position in March of that year. The next month, Obama and his personal attorney wrote letters to Fuddy, requesting two certified copies of his original birth certificate to make public in an attempt to end claims he was born outside the United States.

Fuddy approved an exception to a 2001 policy prohibiting photocopies of an original birth certificate.

“We hope issuing certified copies of the original certificate of live birth to President Obama will end the numerous inquiries related to his birth in Hawaii,” she said in a statement at the time. She said she viewed the records and that they “further prove the fact that he was born in Hawaii.”

Fuddy was traveling in a small commercial plane with eight others that crashed in the waters off Molokai’s Kalaupapa peninsula Wednesday. She was the only one who died.

Several hundred department employees, the governor and some of Fuddy’s relatives gathered in the department’s parking lot Thursday to share memories.