A Gift to Honor Their Parents
When the Kosasa siblings – Tom '63, Susan (St. Andrew's Priory), Gloria '68 and Paul ('Iolani) – announced a $10 million gift to fund the new facilities for grades 4 and 5, they chose to dedicate it to the memory of their parents, Sidney and Minnie Kosasa, founders of the successful chain of ABC Stores.
Tom, who initiated the gift, says his parents raised him and his siblings with a strong appreciation for education. He recalls that "Punahou opened a whole new world for me" when he entered in seventh grade, naming Peter Powlison '40 as one of many teachers who ignited the lifelong intellectual curiosity that would characterize his career.
After Punahou, Tom graduated with a degree in architecture from Dartmouth College. He earned his medical degree at McGill University in Montreal and completed his residency at Harvard Medical School. Today, he is one of the state's leading physicians and researchers on fertility studies and reproductive gynecology.
"Education is so important – it's what takes you forward through life and it's what made me who I am," he affirms. Among his many professional roles, Tom is professor emeritus in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health at the University of Hawai'i John A. Burns School of Medicine. As a teacher, he aspires to kindle the same enthusiasm and curiosity for learning that he credits his mentors for giving him. In addition to a strong belief in the power of education, "Our parents taught us the value of giving back. Because the community supported them, it becomes our turn to support the community," notes Paul, who currently runs the ABC Stores and chairs the Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, among other volunteer commitments.
Education is just one field that the Kosasas have strengthened in Hawai'i, from creating scholarships to supporting research and facilities at numerous schools and universities. The siblings share an educational philosophy that embraces the whole child, from arts and athletics to civic engagement and support for socioeconomic diversity.
"Thanks to our parents, all of us experienced a well-rounded education that helped us to succeed in life. Punahou taught me to think and provided opportunities for me to flourish, and for that I am truly grateful." says Gloria. She and her husband, Stephen Gainsley, recently pledged an additional $1 million to create outdoor learning environments in the grades 2 – 5 neighborhood that will foster an appreciation for nature and Hawaiian culture.
Paul adds that enabling future generations to seek solutions to local and global problems is essential. "To the extent that Punahou is a partner and a resource for other public and private schools, supporting Punahou is also a way of supporting the educational community more broadly in Hawai'i and beyond."
The Kosasa siblings, from left: Tom, Gloria, Susan and Paul.