ROBERT RICHARDS MIDKIFF Was born on September 24, 1920, in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii. He died on October 29, 2014. He was 94 years old. He was a fourth-generation descendant of Amos Starr and Juliet Montague Cooke, teachers and missionaries, who taught the royal children of Hawaii at the Chiefs' Children's School. He lived an exemplary life of service to others and received numerous major awards, including the following: the Connie Murdoch Award from the Small Business Council of America in 1990; and the Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year in 1995 at Philanthropy Day. He was commended by the State Senate for his outstanding achievements in business and philanthropic contributions to the people of Hawaii in 2001, and was honored by Governor Ben Cayetano, who proclaimed July 14, 2001, as Robert R. Midkiff Day. He was awarded the 2001 Ho'olaulima No Na Keiki Award from the Good Beginnings Alliance; received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2002; and was the first recipient of the Pacific Business News Business Leadership Hawaii Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. He was awarded the Alfred Preis Award for 2003 from the Hawaii Alliance for Arts in Education; was selected as one of the Honolulu Magazine 100 Notables in 2005, which honored note-worthy citizens who have made a significant contribution to Honolulu's life and culture; won the 2006 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Small Business Council of America; and the Fred Rogers Award for Philanthropy from the Grantmakers for Children, Youth, and Families in 2007. His great-great grandparents, Amos Starr Cooke and Juliet Montague Cooke, sailed "around the Horn" from New England to the Hawaiian Islands as missionaries in the Eighth Company, arriving in 1837. This missionary couple, Mr. and Mrs. Amos Starr Cooke, founded and taught the ali'i children in the Chiefs' Children's School, the home school for princes and princesses. Many of their pupils established "royal trusts" that still exist and give money for specific purposes, including the Lunalilo Home Trust, the Bishop Estate, the Queen Lili'uokalani Trust, and the Queen Emma Foundation. Mr. Midkiff cared deeply about this legacy, and he said that, "There comes with being a missionary descendant a feeling that we are all children of God, brothers and sisters of all people, and that we all have an obligation to care for each other." In this school, the royal children lived and shared the life and responsibilities, the disciplines and the joys of Mr. and Mrs. Cooke and their own children. In this school, sixteen royal children were educated. Five of them later became Monarchs of the Kingdom. Princess Bernice Pauahi, great-granddaughter of Kamehameha The Great, was one of these royal pupils, and lived in the Cooke's missionary home from age eight to age nineteen, and was married in the parlor of that home to Charles Reed Bishop. Impressed with the benefits of such education, when Princess Pauahi later inherited great portions of the Kamehamehama lands, and was approaching the end of her life, she decided that what she could provide that could best help her needy people was a good Christian education. She left her great estate to establish and maintain The Kamehameha Schools. All of the royal children of the Chiefs' Children's School were childless, or lost their only children. Several of them created charitable trusts based on lands given them by the Great Mahele of Kamehameha III; including Queen Emma, who left her lands in trust for Queen's Hospital, and King Lunalilo, who left his lands in a trust to care for aged Hawaiians. Queen Lili'uokalani left her lands similarly to provide for orphans, giving preference to those of pure or part Hawaiian descent. Mr. Midkiff's maternal great-grandmother, Juliette Montague Cooke Atherton, was one of the Cooke children reared with Princess Pauahi and the other Hawaiian princes and princesses in the Chiefs' Children's School. His great-grandmother told stories of those royal school days and in this way her deep and infectious love for the Hawaiian children and their parents had a profound experience upon him as a child. She was the first in her family to attend Punahou School in 1850. She founded and conducted the Juliette M. Atherton Trust, which later became part of the Atherton Family Foundation. His grandfather, Theodore Richards, came to Hawaii in 1888 as a teacher and later served as Principal of The Kamehameha School for Boys for five years, beginning in 1894. He married Mary Cushing Atherton, daughter of Juliette Cooke Atherton and Joseph Ballard Atherton. Theodore Richards founded Kokokahi, which means "of one blood", which he meant as a place for people of different races to live together as people of one blood. He also founded the Friend Peace Scholarship Fund, and was the Superintendent for 25 years of the Bible Training School, and helped to establish the Kauluwela Mission. He was the son of Frank Elbert Midkiff and Ruth Richards Midkiff, his grandparents were Theodore Richards (who served as Principal of Kamehameha Schools for five years beginning in 1894) and Mary Atherton Richards, and his great-grandparents were Joseph Ballard Atherton and Juliet Cooke Atherton, the eldest daughter of the Cookes. Juliette Cooke Atherton founded and conducted the Juliette M. Atherton Trust, which later became the Atherton Family Foundation. His father, Frank Elbert Midkiff, served as a Trustee of both the Kamehameha Schools and of Punahou School. When he first arrived in Hawaii in 1913 to teach at Punahou School, he planned to stay in Hawaii for only two years and then to continue around the world. He had no desire to leave once he had come to the islands. He taught and coached at Punahou School, and then became a teacher and coach, and later principal of Kamehameha Schools. His parents were married in 1917. His mother, Ruth Richards Midkiff, was an active community volunteer, serving as Regent of the Daughters of the Hawaii, President of the Garden Club of Honolulu, and as the President of the YWCA locally and a national Director of the YWCA. She taught Sunday School at Central Union Church. Bob spent part of his childhood on the site of the present Bishop Museum, which was then the Kamehameha School for Boys. His fondness for the Hawaiian people thus had its source in his family's close educational relationships with Hawaiian students in schools, a history that has stretched from 1837 to the present day. Bob was the second of three children. His sisters are Mary Wilson Midkiff, who died of diphtheria at an early age, and Elizabeth (Betty) Midkiff Morris Myers, who died in 2012. Bob attended Hanahauoli School, graduating in 1931; PunahouSchool, class of 1938; and Yale University, class of 1942, with his close friends Thurston Twigg-Smith and John Kneubuhl. He was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Yale. World War II broke out during his senior year at college, and after graduation, he enlisted in the Army, which sent him to study Japanese language back at Yale. He first started in the Military Police in the Army, and was later assigned to General McArthur's staff in Japan. He was then sent to Korea, and his job was to repatriate Japanese civilians and soldiers from Korea back to Japan. He received the Army Commendation Ribbon. After the war, he had some choices: either law school at Yale, or business school at Harvard, or government in Washington, all on the mainland, but he listened to some very good advice from a mentor and returned to Hawaii. The advice was that 'You will make three great decisions in your life. You will decide whom you will marry, but your wife will have a lot to say about that. You will decide what church you will attend again, your wife will have a lot to say about that. But you can decide where you want to live and what you do when you get there." He decided he wanted to live in Hawaii, so he returned home to the Islands. He cared deeply about Hawaii and its people. His days were full of good works in this community. His life was full of activity, concern, and service to
others. His first job was at Hawaiian Trust downtown, where he started as a delivery boy and clerk. He later married the late Eva Anita (Evanita) Sumner in 1948, and together they raised five children in their Kahala Beach home. After Hawaiian Trust, he moved to American Factors (AmFac), where he was a Vice-President for Public Relations and Planning. He helped to develop Kaanapali Resort and Silverado Resort for AmFac, and helped to found the Lahaina Restoration Foundation in 1962, with the goal of preserving the historical significance of the town, and to return Lahaina to the appearance that it had during the days of the Hawaiian monarchy. After AmFac, he served as the President of American Security Bank, and then founded his own trust company, American Trust Co. of Hawaii, which served as a custodial trustee for pension and profit sharing plans. American Trust bought Bishop Trust, and he later sold both companies to the Bank of Hawaii. He pioneered the use of profit sharing plans and was known as the "Father of Profit Sharing in Hawaii". He was always an active community volunteer, serving on the Atherton Family Foundation and countless other boards. He helped found the Downtown Improvement Association, Waikiki Improvement Association, and the Friends of 'Iolani Palace. He was on the board of directors of the Moanalua Gardens Foundation, the Kokokahi Community Trust, which his grandfather, Theodore Richards, founded, and served as President of the Social Science Association. One of his biggest accomplishments was in seeing a vision of downtown and helping to make that vision become reality. His first goal was to anchor the government decision-making process by locating the new state Capitol in central Honolulu, thus ensuring that all state, city, and federal headquarters buildings were a part of downtown. To that end, he joined Scotty Koga as co-chairmen of the architect selection committee, selecting the ultimate design for the Capitol. The second goal was to anchor the downtown business center by creating a building like Rockefeller Center, which would serve as a business magnet and catalyst to sustain growth in the downtown area. The Financial Plaza of the Pacific was the remarkable result. His third goal was to revitalize downtown with cultural and historical assets, such as Iolani Palace, the Mission Houses Museum, and Chinatown. Downtown needed to be a cultural hub, to bring people to the area after work hours. Part of his plan to create that cultural hub was to restore the Hawaii Theatre to its former glory (the area was talked about as becoming another parking lot). He raised millions of dollars to restore the theatre. He also became chairman of the Honolulu Culture and Arts District. He served as a director of the Honolulu Advertiser, and helped his childhood friend, Thurston Twigg-Smith, to form the joint operating agreement which had the Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin sharing their printing presses. He had a rare gift for bringing people together to work for a common cause. He was very successful in raising money for non-profits, working for many worthy causes, including Punahou School's Charles R. Bishop Building restoration; the Hawaii Community Foundation, which he helped to found and for which he served as secretary and director; the Mission Houses Museum; and the Friends of Iolani Palace. He served as the President of the Hawaii Visitors Bureau, as Chairman of Aloha United Way's Trust & Foundations Division, and as Hawaii's first representative on the Council of Foundations board. He traveled to Washington, D.C., where he advocated for profit-sharing and for ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership) plans, working with his great friend Senator Sparky Matsunaga. He was a director of the Profit Sharing Council of America. He helped establish a bill for Hawaii Land Trusts. His social network included the Apua Ale and Sail Gang, a group of friends who grew up together and maintained their Punahou School connection all their lives. Their children all became friends, and the parents taught them to sail and gave them a large extended network of connections. His home became the scene of many wonderful parties. He and his wife decided to take disco dancing lessons, and invited their friends to join them at their house in Kahala for those lessons. There were many parties given for his friends and for his children, and many of them ended with the rugs being rolled up, the music turned on, and lots of dancing. He loved music of all kinds, and took up the piano again in his later years. He loved opera, jazz (Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington were favorites), and Hawaiian music. He wrote and sang his signature song, "Why Deed You Make Me Love You, Why, Deed You?" He was a good friend to many, and his good friends continued to be his friends after his stroke in 2006. He enjoyed golf, both with his father at Oahu Country Club, and later, with a terrific and kind group at Waialae Country Club. He continued to meet every Friday at the Pacific Club with some of his classmates. He loved to tell jokes, and published a book, Uncle Bob's Heavenly Jokes, for a fundraiser for the Good Beginnings Alliance. In 1993 he launched a new career as a children's advocate, using the considerable money-raising and marketing skills that took him to the top of his business field, as an advocate for the cause at the Legislature and with the Hawaii Business Roundtable. The Senate Resolution in 2001 stated, in part, "The people of Hawaii owe a debt of gratitude beyond what words can express to Mr. Midkiff. He has been a leader and mainstay in the development of modern Hawaii since Statehood. He will be memorialized in the history of Hawaii as a towering figure in business leadership and community participation." In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made in his name to Punahou School, 1601 Punahou Street, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96822, for the Robert R. '38 and Evanita S. '39 Midkiff Endowed Fund to support Early Childhood Education; or to KCAA , 2707 South King Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96826; or to the Hawaii Theatre, 1130 Bethel Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, or to a charity of your choice. He is survived by numerous family members, including his five children, Mary Lloyd Midkiff Fiedler, Robin Starr Midkiff, Shelley Sumner Midkiff, Robert Richards Midkiff, Jr., and David Wilson Midkiff; and his six grandchildren, Jennifer Cooke Fiedler, Julia Wright Fiedler, Alejandra Sumner Liliuokalani Borunda, Erich Atherton Deines, Anita Starr Deines, and Gabriel Itzcoatl Borunda, and three great-grandchildren, Benjamin and Solomon Deines, and Evanita Mahealani Beins. He is pre-deceased by his wife, Evanita Sumner Midkiff, and his sisters Mary Wilson Midkiff and Frances Elizabeth (Betty) Midkiff Morris Myers. Services will be held on Saturday, December 13, 2014, at 8:00 a.m. at St. Andrew's Cathedral, 229 Queen Emma Square, Honolulu, HI 96813. There will be a private interment service at the Mission Houses Cemetery.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased