Donor Stories

Charlie Wichman and the Rice Family

Charlie Wichman's legacy at Punahou School dates back to the school's first decade and through multiple generations. It is those early contributions he honors with the scholarship he has built since 1978 with brother Hobey Goodale.
Their great-great-grandparents, William Harrison Rice and Mary Sophia Rice, arrived in Hawai'i in 1841 with the "Eighth Company" of missionaries. After a first assignment in Hana, Maui, the Rices came to teach at Punahou in 1844, performing various jobs to support the fledgling school with their friend, Daniel Dole. William taught but also oversaw the farm that provided food for the school. Like Dole, he was fully engaged in the grounds and facilities, including building the Rice and Dole Hall wings of the first "E Building" and, in 1852, building Old School Hall where Wichman recently visited to reflect on the family history.

Equally important to the school and affectionately known as "Mother Rice," Mary Sophia taught the younger children, repaired their clothes and showed them how to sew and braid.

Due to ailing health, the couple moved to Kaua'i in 1854 and William managed Lihue Plantation. He died in 1862, but Mary survived him by 48 years, leaving behind a legacy of philanthropy commemorated in the Punahou Scholarship Fund named in her honor.

Since then, every generation of the family has had students attend Punahou, but Wichman and his two brothers did not. Wichman briefly attended the Episcopal-affiliated 'Iolani School, a decision he attributes to the fact that "my grandfather (Charles Atwood Rice 1896) was a congregationalist and my grandmother (Grace Ethel King) was a very strong Episcopalian, so she must have worn the pants on that decision. "

During his high school years, Wichman's parents, Juliet Rice 1920 and Frederick W. Wichman 1910, moved to Oregon then Menlo Park, Calif. He then spent "two years, six months and eight days" in the Army before being discharged in 1946. He quickly entered Stanford and graduated with a law degree in 1952.His first job was with the Hilo law firm Carlsmith Ball LLP, where he later became a partner helping lead the Honolulu office; he recently retired after 52 years.

Wichman and his wife, Jeanne, married in 1955, less than a year after they met on a blind date. Their four children, Wendy '74, Chipper '75, Michael '78 and Jonathan '82, all attended Punahou, as did four of his eight grandchildren.

Many Rice family descendants live or vacation at Ha'ena on Kaua'i's north shore and the family is very involved in the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, offering gifts of land, trustee leadership and Chipper's guidance as executive director.

When asked why he supports Punahou, Wichman said, "It's an easy institution to support. It produces a quality that's hard to duplicate." He applauded the school's stewardship of gifts. "To see one's gifts to an endowment at Punahou grow under the care of the school has been a powerful incentive to continue to give more. You know the funds will be well invested."

Director of Legacy Planning Barb Young '67 Morgan said, "He's a great philanthropist and we're very fortunate that Punahou is among his top priorities."