Friday, February 2, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, February 2, 2001

William D. Castle, philanthropist, dead at 85

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

William D. Castle, a philanthropist and head of one of the oldest family foundations in the country, died Wednesday in Honolulu. He was 85.

Castle was born in Honolulu and graduated from Punahou School. His great-grandfather, Samuel Northrup Castle, was a co-founder of Castle & Cooke. William’s great-grandmother, Mary Tenney Castle, founded the Samuel N. & Mary Castle Foundation in 1894.

The foundation was created to benefit early childhood education and care. The organization’s earliest grants were to establish Hawaii’s preschool and kindergarten system in the late 19th century.

William Castle served as a trustee on the foundation for 42 years and president for 38 years. This year, the foundation is expected to donate $2.5 million in grants to local agencies.

Alfred Castle, William’s son and executive director of the foundation, said his father was a gentle and giving man.

"Mainly he was just a wonderful man who cared very much about this community and gave freely of his money and of his time to help the community build its civic infrastructure," Alfred Castle said.

In addition to his work on the foundation, William Castle was on the board of many community organizations. He was a director at Chaminade University and was on the first board of La Pietra-Hawaii School for Girls.

Alfred Castle said his father was most proud of his work with the American Red Cross. In the 1970s, Castle led the capital campaign to build the Red Cross’ Diamond Head headquarters, which was named after William Castle’s father, Alfred.

After graduating from Punahou, Castle earned a degree at Harvard University. He joined the Navy and was a lieutenant commander stationed in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941.

When the war ended, Castle returned to Hawaii and was an administrator with Alexander & Baldwin and Bishop Trust Co.

Castle is survived by his sons, William, Randy, Alfred and Carlyle; sister, Gwendolyn Murphy; and two grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Monday at 10 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu. Donations may be made to Punahou School development department, the Hawaii Chapter of the American Red Cross, or the Samuel N. & Mary Castle Foundation.

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