Wade McVay

Posted On April 14th, 2012 -


Was born in Santa Monica, California and attended high school in Venice, California. Graduating in 1942, he entered military service and became a fighter pilot Army in the U.S. Army air force, serving in the Pacific region.

Following WWII, he attended both the University of Hawaii and San Jose State College, graduating in 1950. He then earned his Master’s degree at Ohio State University in 1951.

His business career began in August of 1951 as a ceramic research specialist (later Assistant Plant Superintendent) for Hawaiian Gas Products, Ltd. (later known as Gaspro). At the time, the company was making bricks and faced many challenges with the clay content of the components used in the manufacturing process. Gaspro later discontinued the product.

Hired as Assistant to the Manager for the Estate of James Campbell in 1954, Wade was fond of saying that his position made him “#2 from the top but also, being in charge of three janitors and an elevator operator, I was fifth from the bottom.” Wade helped to spawn new business ventures, such as the Kahuku Aquaculture Farm and Hawaii Earth Products. With his son and daughter, Wade would scour the island for coconuts, establishing nurseries in Kahuku and near Campbell Industrial Park that eventually expanded to several thousand palm trees which, today, grace the Turtle bay, Ko’olina, and Kapolei areas.

Wade was committed to the principles of urban design and was instrumental in the initial planning an zoning for Campbell Industrial Park, Makakilo, Leeward Estates, Turtle Bay, and eventually the city of Kapolei. Wade was a keen proponent of master planning and was active as a member of the Urban Land Institute and Institute of Real Estate Management.

Wade became Chief Executive Officer in 1960 and in 1976 was appointed as a Trustee of the Estate– a position he held until Dec 31, 1994. By that time, the city of Kapolei was well on its way, the Estate had a significant portfolio of office and industrial buildings on the mainland, and the Estate’s value was approaching $2 billion.

Was was known for his “Wade-o-grams,” short memos to various members of the Estate’s management team with observations, new ideas, and subtle suggestions to fix things that weren’t quite right. He was dearly loved and respected by the Estate’s employees, both before and after his appointment of Trustee.

Wade was a fighter pilot in the Hawaii National Guards from 1949-1956, flying the P-47 “Jug” and he F-86 “Sabre.” Achieving the rank of captain, he managed his dual career until 1955, concluding that he needed to devote more time to his growing family. He left his mark on the 199th Fighter Squadron, however having designed the squadron insignia which was used for many years after his “early retirement.”

Wade was a respected business leader, serving as a director for such organizations as HMSA, Territorial Savings, Hawaiian Humane Society, Downtown Improvement Association, and the Hawaii Resort Developers Conference. He was a charter member and served for several decades in the Rotary Club of Metropolitan Honolulu and was well-known for spearheading new and innovative projects. His annual drive to collect used books to send to South Pacific school children is perhaps his best known initiative. It is estimated that more than 30,000 books were sent under this program. Wade and his wife, Harue, started Diamonds in the Rough scholarship program which to date has provided 91 scholarships to 91 students.

Wade was a humble man who loved to walk downtown, shop in Chinatown, and enjoy the people with whom he came in contact. He thrived on working as a team member planning meaningful communities and believed in the power of new ideas. He was a loving husband, father, and friend to many. Wade is survived by his wife of 58 years, Harue, his son Kurt, daughter Lisa, and one grandson. Donations in his memory can be made to the Rotary Club of Metropolitan Honolulu for the DIR Scholarship Program and mailed to the Rotary Club of Metropolitan Honolulu, P.O. Box 179364, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817.

- Denotes U.S. Military Veteran