Real estate tycoon Chinn Ho shattered racial barriers in Hawai'i at a time when many of his peers thought the establishment would never allow them into corporate boardrooms and prestigious clubs.
He became the first Asian trustee of a landed estate the Robinson estate and the first Asian director of Theo H. Davies & Co., a "Big Five" company. Similarly, he was the first Asian head of the Honolulu Stock Exchange and the first Asian to be president of a Triple A professional baseball team the Hawaii Islanders.
The cigar-chomping, self-made millionaire was born in 1904. He was the grandson of a Chinese immigrant who arrived in 1875 to care for coconut trees but wound up planting rice in what is now Waikiki. That's where Ho was born.
A sickly boy, he strengthened himself with weightlifting. At the same time, his father, who worked at the Pacific Club, brought home financial journals that Ho began to read.
His business start came when he graduated from McKinley High School in 1924. He had to organize a group to pay $38 for a window they had broken and then he invested the leftover money. The group would ultimately evolve 20 years later into his primary investment firm, Capital Investment, but Ho's first job after high school was selling pencils and can openers door-to-door.
A year later, Ho joined Duisenberg, Wichman and Co., a stock brokerage firm where he learned to invest money, including money from his classmates. By 1944, he and his classmates had pooled $200,000 from investments to form Capital Investment.
In 1959, Ho took over Hawai'i's biggest condominium-apartment project, the Ilikai, from its original developers and turned half of its apartments into hotel rooms and added a rooftop restaurant. When it opened in 1964, it was the state's first high-rise luxury resort.
The personable Ho would sometimes greet guests in the lobby or show up in the staff cafeteria to drink coffee with employees.
Ho was on the board of directors of The Honolulu Advertiser when its rival, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, was put up for sale in 1961. Ho organized a group of buyers and became the first Asian to be a principal owner of a major Honolulu daily newspaper.
Ho died in Honolulu in 1987. He was 83.