GEORGE S.W. HONG
On December 4, 2010, George S.W. Hong passed away peacefully at home. George Hong was the third son born to Chul Soo and Sook Cha Hong. Korean immigrants who came to work the plantations, his parent worked extremely hard to create a good life for their family. Unusual for a woman in her time, Sook Cha was educated in Korea and graduated from what would become Ewha University. Education was strongly valued in his family. Another enduring influence in George’s life was the love and caring of his beloved grandmother, Kim Sin Kyung.
As a young boy, George had many successes. In addition to skipping a grade, for a time he was the youngest Eagle Scout in the Territory of Hawaii. However, George’s main passion was sports. Whether on the streets or in school, George loved the competition and camaraderie of football. In 1944, George was the first-string quarterback of the Roosevelt Roughriders when the team won the Territory-wide championship.
George came of age in the shadow of World War II, and attended the University of Hawaii. There he made some of the strongest and most meaningful friendships of his life, and it was during college that he met his future wife of 62 years. Both beautiful and bright, Jane Fujii was the recipient of one of two Territorial Scholarships, which enabled her to attend UH.
George and Jane shared an amazing life, embodying the American dream. George enlisted in the Army during World War II, saw active duty in the Korean Conflict, and later rose to the rank of Major in the Reserves. The G.I. bill allowed George to attend law school at Columbia University in New York. Jane later joined him at Columbia, receiving a Masters in Education.
Armed with an ivy-league law degree, George returned to the islands to practice law with prominent local attorney Chuck Mau. In 1957, George launched his own practice and later formed a partnership with Donald K. Iwai. Hong and Iwai (and its successors) generally represented Loyalty Development Company, Ltd. (for which he served as a Director and officer from its incorporation) as well as other landowners in the airport industrial park area. George and his law firm also represented the other business interests controlled by the late Clarence T.C. Ching (and his affiliates), including International Development Company, Territorial Investors, and Liberty Bank.
In 1961, George was instrumental in forwarding the adoption of legislation enabling the formation of dental service corporations. Shortly thereafter, with Dr. John Kim and other dentists, George founded Hawaii Dental Service. In the mid-1960′s, along with the late Clarence Ching, K. J. Luke, and Harold Spector, George developed the first Section 221(d)(3), below-market low-moderate income housing project in Hawaii, known as Moanalua Hillside Apartment. A few years later, George assisted the late Mr. Ching in financing and developing the 822 unit multi-family complex known as Kukui Gardens.
Always a gifted athlete, George was also an extremely good golfer. George became a member of Waialae Country Club in 1967. He served on their Board of Directors for several years, and was elected President of Waialae Country Club in 1986. George was also an advisor to the Honorable Mayor Frank F. Fasi.
George is survived by his three children: Carol Hong (attorney), Robert Hong (M.D.) and Claire Hong (environmental protection), and three grandchildren, Scott Hong, Matthew Hong, and Lauren Croxton. Despite his many accomplishments, those of us who will miss him the most remember him for the man that he was – strong, charismatic, fierce of nature, yet also gentle and loyal.
A Celebration of Life will be held for George S.W. Hong on Thursday, December 9, 2010 at Waialae Country Club from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to: UH Foundation, JABSOM, Cardiology Fellowship Fund.