BARBARA “STEVE” WILCOX
Barbara “Steve” Anne Stevens Wilcox, 88, died February 18, 2011, at Fairview, her home of 37 years in Napoopoo on the Big Island. Born August 14, 1922, in Iowa but reared and educated in California, Steve met her future husband, Allen C. Wilcox, Jr., in a chance encounter at her Stanford sorority house. The beautiful young bride married her handsome, “exotic” groom from the Territory of Hawaii in 1944 while he was serving the war effort as a Provost Marshal for the U.S. Army. Allen, who later became the top executive of Alexander Baldwin and of Matson Lines, was the first man of Hawaiian ancestry to rise to CEO of one of Hawaii’s Big Five companies.
On the Mainland during the early years of their 60-year marriage, Steve tended to a growing family that eventually comprised three children – Allen III (Cratch), Steve and Anne Irene. Balancing family and career, this young mother worked as writer and editor for a number of prestigious newspapers in southern California. When she and Allen moved with their young ones to Oahu in 1952, she once again, after settling into her adopted state, expanded her interests beyond homemaking. The accomplished young writer was hired as a journalist by the Honolulu Advertiser and developed a celebrated society column, The Party Line, that was an immediate hit and catapulted her into the midst of Honolulu’s movers and shakers.
As her children grew from toddlers to teens, Steve devoted countless volunteer hours to her hanai island community, a commitment to service that predominated throughout her long, rewarding life. Among her many contributions, she served in Honolulu as president of the Queen’s Hospital Auxiliary, director of Child & Family Services, and president of Kauikeolani Children’s Hospital Auxiliary. Steve was a prominent, participating member of the Junior League, Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society, Honolulu Symphony Association, Hawaiian Historical Society, and P.E.O., and a founder of Les Gourmets de Pupu.
As empty nesters Allen and Steve moved in 1974 to the Big Island where Steve focused on volunteerism, philanthropy and her church. An activist for conservation of the rich but fragile Hawaii ecology, she was elected president of Kona Outdoor Circle, was instrumental in securing the land and finances to build the KOC Educational Center, and spearheaded the organization’s highly successful Full Circle Thrift Shop. Steve, with her intellect and passion and pocketbook, actively promoted the missions of Kona Hospital Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Kona Historical Society, Lyman Museum, West Hawaii Humane Society, and Daughters of Hawaii. Through the Allen & Barbara Wilcox Trust, Steve made generous donations over the decades in support of many worthy local projects dear to her heart. A woman of deep personal faith, Steve became a deacon of Kahikolu Congregational Church for which she had been a guiding force in the restoration of this historical Capt. Cook site of worship.
In tribute to her remarkable contributions to preserving and enhancing the wealth of human, cultural, spiritual and environmental resources of our islands, Steve was recognized in 1993 as a Living Treasure of Hawaii by the state Legislature.
She is survived by her beloved children, sons Allen (Brenda) Wilcox III of Waimea and Steven (Mavourneen) Wilcox of Kauai and daughter Anne Irene Wilcox of Napoopoo; by her sister Carol (Robert) Littlejohn of Green Valley, AZ; by four grandchildren, Erin (Ted) Martinchick, Samuel Wilcox Young, Kauikeolani Wilcox and Christopher Wilcox,; by three great-grandchildren, Emma, Aydan and Kolen Martinchick; and by numerous nieces and nephews. The family and friends of Steve Wilcox will cherish their remembrances of this exceptional woman who walked the earth in amazing grace and has surely left it a better place.
Godspeed, Mom, Booma, Auntie Barbara, Steve. We will miss you.
A joyful Celebration of Life for Steve Wilcox, as previously announced, was held on Friday at Fairview. The family suggests that donations in her memory be made to Kona Hospital Foundation to fund one of Steve’s abiding passions – to build a chapel for benefit of patients, families and hospital staff. To donate: 1) Online by credit card, go to the website of the Foundation, www.khfhawaii.org; or 2) by check, make payable to Kona Hospital Foundation for the chapel and mail to Kona Hospital Foundation, 79-1019 Haukapila Street, Kealakekua, HI 96750; or 3) by credit card, phone the Foundation office at 808-322-4587.