Paul & Guinness

Paul Douglass with his dog, Guiness, partly Lhasa Apso. Photo courtesy of Douglass family

Paul T. Douglass, born in San Francisco, California on November 3, 1934, passed away in Honolulu on March 27, 2012 at the age of 77. He has left an indelible imprint on our community of Kaua`i from his years of service, working, living and chairing or being a member of many boards of nonprofit organizations.

A memorial service will be held in Paul Douglass’ honor on Friday, April 20, 2012 at 9 a.m. at the Kaua`i Marriott Resort & Spa. Aloha wear is suggested.

 In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that gifts in honor of Paul T. Douglass may be made to the Wilcox Hospital Foundation to support the purchase of a new CT scanner; or to the American Cancer Society to support the building of Hope Lodge, a free home away from home for cancer patients that must travel from the neighbor islands to O`ahu for treatment.

Following is a brief biography from information generously provided by members of his family and following that, memories shared by some friends and acquaintances who felt blessed to know him and afterwards, some memories shared by his children.

A life well lived

A native Californian, Paul T. Douglass graduated from Lowell High School in San Francisco, and the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo. During his Academy time, he was in the U.S. Naval Reserve. Upon graduating, he married his childhood sweetheart, Shirley Hansen, on August 24, 1956 in San Francisco.

He spent two years in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Inchon, Korea and Sasebo, Japan, attaining the rank of Lieutenant by 1959. Returning to San Francisco, he began a career with Matson Navigation Company.

When Matson transferred Paul, Shirley and their growing family to Hawai`i in 1967, they fell in love with the islands and made many wonderful friends here. Despite many calls for his return to corporate headquarters in San Francisco, Paul remained in Hawai`i until he retired from Matson after over 43 years of loyal service as a district manager variously on O`ahu, Maui, Hawai`i Island, and finally, his beloved Kaua`i.

Paul was extraordinarily proud to be part of the Matson family and displayed the Matson logo everywhere —including on his home mailbox. When he retired, having spent more than half his life with the company, he even arranged to keep his personalized Matson license plate.

Paul’s love for Hawai`i reflected in his decades of service to the community. Though it may read as a list here, in every instance there are storied examples of his love, commitment, respect, sense of responsibility, energy and full on championing of the cause in each of the organizations with which he became involved.

Listed in no particular order, he was a Boy Scout troop leader on Hawai`i Island and Kaua`i; a Rotarian for over 45 years; served on various boards including the Kaua`i Chamber of Commerce, Kaua`i Red Cross, Kaua`i chapter of the American Cancer Society, Kaua`i Independent Food Bank and the Kaua`i Humane Society. More of his community endeavors included serving as chair of the Kaua`i Economic Development Board, and he was on the Wilcox Memorial Hospital board of directors starting in 1989 with a stint as Chair in 1998.

But of all his accomplishments, Paul was proudest of his family. In August, he and Shirley celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. His children note that he was an inspiration, a teacher, a sounding board, a compass, and best friend to all five of them: Susan L. Douglass of Hilo; Stephen P. Douglass of Kaneohe; David C. Douglass of Folsom, California; Sharon D. Mayo of Mill Valley, California; and Scott A. Douglass of Lihu`e.

Family members also note that Paul doted on his grandchildren Bobby, Danielle, William, Elisabeth, Laura, Madeleine, and great-grandchild Banner. They say his Lhasa Apso, Guinness will miss his daily walks and companionship with Paul.

Remembering Paul

by Kaua`i Community members

Many persons who knew or worked with Paul Douglass in his various capacities shared some of their thoughts with

Lani Yukimura
(Retired) Manager, Marketing & Communications, Wilcox Health

Paul was a neighbor, living in Ulu Ko where I live, and I will miss seeing him out early each morning walking his dog. So glad you are doing a story on him. He was very active in our Kaua`i community and had a big heart for helping people.

Sue Kanoho
Executive Director, Kaua’i Visitors Bureau

One of the first business leaders I met when I came to Kaua’i 25 years ago was Paul Douglass. Paul was my Board Chair in my early years at the Kaua’i Economic Development Board (KEDB) and I always enjoyed our talks during those years working together. Paul became more than a colleague — he became a good family friend and I was grateful for those moments when I was able to “talk story” and catch up with Paul and Shirley. The leadership and support Paul Douglass gave to our many organizations on Kaua’i will leave a legacy of dedication and aloha in our history books for years to come. Paul Douglass was one of the most incredibly humble men I have ever had the pleasure to know and I value the years we worked together. Paul Douglass will be so very missed, and I hope other leaders on Kaua’i can help support some of the programs/organizations that Paul gave so tirelessly to year after year in honor of a wonderful man: Paul Douglass.

Jan Ten Bruggencate
Island Strategy LLC, (retired) science writer for The Honolulu Advertiser

Paul was the consummate citizen. In my experience he was keenly intelligent and unfailingly interesting. He was active in many charitable and community activities. Our community was better for him, and we need more like him.

Judy Lenthall
Former Executive Director, Kaua`i Independent Food Bank

Kauai has just lost another precious Living Treasure. Paul Douglass was a one in a million ‘man of the sea’ who could sweat with dockworkers by day and dine with Governors by night. Usually wearing his prized lauhala hat made by Auntie Esther Makuaole, he practiced a lifetime of the Rotarian motto: “Service Above Self,” and his community volunteerism was truly second to none. Other reliable men might be called “The Rock,” but to me, Paul would always be “A Lighthouse” — an unfailing, powerful beacon of good light and aloha for Kaua`i, his family, and the community. I was blessed with the wonderful gift of knowing him well for over 20 years, as a friend, mentor, and boss, and his passing has left a huge hole in the bulkhead/heart of those who loved him dearly.

Kathy Clark
President and Chief Executive Officer, Wilcox Memorial Hospital

I have so many memories….one of my fondest is that every day during the nurse’s strike he was in here checking on all of us or all the hours he spent with me when I first came to Kaua‘i…helping me understand Kaua`i or one of our staff forgetting that Paul was still on the back of the float and driving quickly while towing the trailer Paul was sitting on and his expression while talking about the ride or hers when she remembered he was still back there or his face when he saw the sleigh I had made for him to ride in the Parade of Lights Parade — so many stories.

Linda M. Howe
Manager, Community Relations, Alexander & Baldwin, Inc.

During the 1990s, in the decade that punctuated his long career with Matson, I was fortunate to know and work with Paul on issues concerning A&B’s support for the community. I was immediately and repeatedly impressed by how many worthy causes he served as a volunteer leader. He was loyal to his family, to his company — Matson, and A&B  — and he deeply cared about Kaua`i.  In the last decade during his so-called retirement, it seemed he devoted even more time and personal resources and truly ‘lived his values.’  He cared about the history and culture, health and nutrition of the island’s residents and visitors, and was deeply devoted to animal well being.  Paul was positive in his attitude toward life. I’ll remember that he always had a good word to say.

Remembering Dad

Consisting of a brief Q&A with three of Paul’s five children: Scott, Sharon and Susan. They shared with For Kaua`i some touching memories of their father, life lessons he passed on to them and some things they will miss now that he has passed on.

Q.       What is your earliest memory of your father, or some early memories that bring you peace or joy or laughter to think about?

Scott: I fondly remember all the time spent with him growing up around the container ships and various ports of call  — Hilo, Guam, Honolulu and Kaua`i — during his years of service at Matson Navigation Company. One of my earliest memories from Hilo was looking out from our house along the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island and alerting my father to the approach of a Matson Container ship. I knew all the ship’s names and often went onboard to meet many of the crew when I accompanied Dad down to meet the ships upon their arrival. The challenges he faced in scheduling, equipment breakdowns, customer service, and interpersonal — employee — relations has helped mold and hone my operational management skills.

Sharon:  Those trips to the container ships were great adventures for me, and I remember them fondly. Dad often would take one of us down to the ship when it was in. After checking in with the captain, the head of the stevedore gang working the ships, and a tour of the engine room, or to go watch them load sugar into the hold of the ship, the last stop was always the galley for some chocolate milk.

Q. Tell some ways you grew because of his example.

Scott: Paul was not only my father, he was my teacher, my mentor and my very best friend. He instilled in me the values of hard work and community service. I will always treasure the time I spent with him working on a community service project for Rotary, fundraising for the Kaua`i Independent Food Bank, trimming the hedges/cleaning up at Nawiliwili Park (before the County began taking care of it), setting up the booth for the Kaua`i Humane Society at the Kaua`i County Farm Bureau Fair in the early 90s and so on. I’ve never felt better about how I spent my time than after a day spent serving the community. Dad always found the time to participate in his children’s activities. He went to work early, so that he could come home and spend time with the kids before dinner. Each of his kids learned, by his example, the importance of being early and prepared to meet the day’s challenges.

Sharon:   Through his example, Dad taught me the importance of loyalty, integrity, and treating everyone  — from the chairman of the board to the stevedore on the dock — as an equal.

Susan:  I absolutely consider him a role model. I follow the same work ethics as Dad: working hard, being dependable and loyal to the same company for many, many years.

Q. Did you each have together time with your father? Do you have a fond memory of any of those times?

Scott:  Four years ago, as my father continued to fight the spread of prostate cancer, I moved back to Kaua`i to care for both of my parents. I was fortunate to spend a great deal of time with him in his final years. I particularly enjoyed our weekend walks up to Starbucks in Kukui Grove along Nawiliwili Road from our house in Ulu Ko subdivision, with his faithful companion, our dog, Guinness. We affectionately referred to one of the boulders fronting the Puakea Golf Course that lies across the Kanani Street entrance to the Ulu Mahi Subdivision as “Guinness Rock,” where we’d often sit and trade stories as Guinness rested while Dad and I both watched the cars roll by. Those walks allowed me to really bond with my Dad and get to learn more about his past.

Sharon:   Dad was the hub of the family.  He made sure to call each of us to catch up on what was going on.  During those calls, after finding out what was going on with me, he would then give me a rundown on what each of my brothers and sister were doing. That is going to be a difficult void to fill.

Q. Can you call to mind certain sayings or particular teachings your father would tell you?

Scott: My Dad could recite the short Victorian Poem Invictus by English Poet William Ernest Henley verbatim from memory. They were words he chose to live by. He approached life unafraid as the master of his fate and the captain of his unconquerable soul.

Q. Are there perhaps particular moments or scents or feelings you might miss in the future. Do any come to mind that you are comfortable sharing?

Sharon:  My sister Susan and I were both struck by the fact that Dad will not be there at the airport to meet us when we fly in. He never did the “drive by” to pick us up — he would park, and be waiting for us in baggage claim, no matter the time of day. Flying home always meant getting a big, warm bear hug from Dad.

Susan:  Dad was also there to see us off when it was time to return home, kissing us goodbye and telling us how much he loved us.

Scott: I will miss the stories he used to tell me about his wonderful full life. Although I had heard many of them several times, there is a big void created by their absence.

Q: How do you think your father will be remembered?

Together: For his generous, caring spirit and his many years of service to the Kaua`i community.