A Lifetime of Generosity: Richard "Dick" Cox '38
Dick Cox is one of those rare individuals whose story combines a breadth of experience with a simple, unaffected zest for life. Curious, humble, good-natured and generous, he has witnessed Hawai'i evolve from its sleepy plantation past into a bustling Pacific crossroads without ever losing his stride.
And stride he does – literally – on his daily walks through Manoa from his home on Rocky Hill. "My favorite walk is through Punahou's campus," he says, and if anyone has seen the campus undergo a multitude of transformations, it's Cox. A graduate of the Class of 1938, he knew a Punahou where seniors graduated at Dillingham Hall and meals were served in a wooden Dole Hall.
Like many of his generation, Cox grew up on sugar plantations – first on Maui and then on Kaua'i, before coming to Punahou in eighth grade. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering from the California
Institute of Technology and tested rockets for the university during World War II, before moving back to Kaua'i to work for McBryde Sugar Company as his father had.
Cox relocated to O'ahu in 1956, eventually rising to the rank of vice president of Alexander & Baldwin. His retirement in 1986 afforded him the freedom to channel his curiosity into exploring the world. He has traveled extensively in Europe and Asia – including a solo trip to Cambodia and Vietnam last spring.
"I recommend travel to everybody, I think it's a way to enlarge your own feelings," Cox says, which is why he chose to support Wo International Center's summer travel programs through a recent gift of $750,000 to the School. "That's the kind of thing that I think Punahou is doing so much better than when I was here; I would like to see every child have an international experience."
Since his first gift of $4 in 1951, Cox has not missed a single year of unrestricted annual giving to Punahou (where his six children and two grandchildren, including Junior School teacher John Chock '01, attended). Cox has also supported various capital campaigns, including the Omidyar K – 1 Neighborhood, and he and his brothers created the Cox Family Endowed Financial Aid Fund in 1985, which he recently augmented through the Changing Lives Challenge. More recently, he has thoughtfully taken advantage of Punahou's gift planning opportunities by naming the School in his estate plan and designating it as a beneficiary of his IRA and commercial annuity. In 2013, Cox formally documented his planned gift to Punahou, becoming a member of Ka Punahou Society and ensuring that the purposes of his gifts were known to the School.
What motivates such a depth and breadth of generosity? "I'm just glad to have Punahou inspire the kids," he says with characteristic humility.