Donor Stories

Robert R. Midkiff '38

When Robert R. Midkiff '38 takes on a project - in business or in the community - he brings to it intelligence, morality, courage and a sense of the big picture. He is also compelled by a commitment to philanthropy, rising from his missionary roots and extending through a life of service and leadership.
The recent establishment of the Bob '38 and Evanita Sumner '39 Midkiff Early Childhood Endowed Fund at Punahou affirms the family's commitment to investing in people and in the Hawai'i community.

The Midkiff family gathered at Punahou to celebrate the initiation of their endowed fund. From left: grandchildren Alejandra Borunda and Erich Deines '02, children Mary '67 Fiedler, David '76, Robin '68 and Bobby '72 stand behind Evanita Sumner '39 and Bob '38 Midkiff.

Bob Midkiff's Hawai'i roots are deep. Born on September 24, 1920 in Honolulu, his mother was Ruth Richards Midkiff (1911), great-granddaughter of missionaries Amos Starr Cooke and Juliette Montague Cooke. His father, Frank E. Midkiff, was president of the Kamehameha Schools and a trustee of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate, as well as a trustee of Punahou School from 1938 to 1984. Children Mary '67, Robin '68, Shelley '70, Robert '72 and David '76 all attended Punahou as have several grandchildren.

Midkiff has been both a business innovator and pragmatist. As vice president of Amfac, Inc., president of American Security Bank, and then chairman of the board of Bishop Trust Company, Ltd., he became known as the "father of profit-sharing in Hawai'i." His leadership in philanthropy has been equally impressive. He has served as an advisor or board member for 12 nonprofit boards; helped reorganize the Hawai'i Community Foundation in 1987; and, for 20 years, served on the board of the Atherton Family Foundation. He has also been recognized nationally through his role on the board of the Council on Foundations. Midkiff helped create the Downtown Improvement Association and chaired the redevelopment of the Hawai'i Theatre Center, which sparked the economic revitalization of downtown Honolulu.

Recently, Midkiff has devoted his considerable energy and passion to early childhood education. As the founding president of Good Beginnings Alliance, a statewide organization established by the Hawai'i State Legislature to coordinate government and private programs that promote early learning for children from birth to age five, he has advocated for Hawai'i's youngest children.

The Bob '38 and Evanita Sumner '39 Midkiff Early Childhood Endowed Fund at Punahou is a reflection of the belief that early education is a critical first step in being able to realize one's best self. The Midkiff Fund will provide ongoing support to faculty and administrators for early childhood programs at Punahou and celebrates the transformations envisioned for the newly planned K - 1 neighborhood.