Donor Stories

Wallace and Elizabeth Wong

Businessman, entrepreneur and investor Wallace Wong believes that by investing in Punahou School, he will enhance the educational experience for his young daughter while also helping others in the process.
That's why he and his wife of 11 years, Elizabeth, chose to invest in the new K-1 Neighborhood. "Basically what we want to do is give the money to Punahou so it can have all the resources to do the job to make it a better school for everybody," Wong said. "We don't want to tell Punahou what to do," he said laughing, "but just to be a resource so Punahou can promote whatever educational activities they want to do."

The Wongs attribute their desire to invest in K-1 to their daughter's positive kindergarten experience at Punahou. Isabella '20 is entering second grade this fall. "I think the first year experience we had at Punahou was so great. She had a great teacher and a great class. We were able to really see what was going on in the class and see her so happy," said Elizabeth, adding that they had an equally wonderful year in first grade.

Elizabeth said the Wongs have felt welcomed at Punahou. "We're not alums of Punahou, and even though Wally was born and raised here in Honolulu, he had only heard about the school. So to get to experience it that first year was impressive, and truly it was like joining a family."

Wong was born in Honolulu in 1941. At 13, he and his family moved to Los Angeles, where he attended Los Angeles High School, then UCLA. In1965, he started his first business in Los Angeles- a chain of business colleges called South Bay College of Business (SBCB). It received national accreditation in 1971, making him the first Asian-American in private education to receive national accreditation.

By 1985, he had eight campuses and also had acquired Santa Barbara Business College, which was established in 1886. He still owns Santa Barbara Business College and is chairman of the board but sold the eight SBCB campuses in 1985. Wong then began investing in commercial real estate and helped start the California-based pharmaceutical company FFF Enterprises, the largest distributor of the flu vaccine in the U.S. Elizabeth grew up in the Panama Canal Zone and received a Bachelor of Arts in international relations from the University of Southern California. After working for 14 years in accounting and finance, she now is a "stay-at-home mom." The Wong family moved to Hawai'i five years ago from Laguna Beach, Calif., after Wong retired.

The Wongs said they are looking forward to Isabella's next 11 years. "We have complete trust in the school and we think she's going to have a fabulous education here," Elizabeth said. "I'd like for her to be able to just go through the K-12 years and absorb and experience as much as she can, be healthy and happy, have fun and learn."