'Doc' Buyers a leader who made us better
Some people are fortunate to be born in Hawai'i, a place they carry in their hearts forever.
Others move here, but soon make the Islands their own and, in their own way, make their adopted home a place better than it was when they found it.
The latter is the story for J.W.A. "Doc" Buyers, the longtime head of C. Brewer & Co., who died this week at the age of 77.
Buyers arrived in Hawai'i in 1975 for what he thought would be a temporary assignment as chief executive officer at C. Brewer. He was a hotshot business executive, parachuting in to help straighten out a struggling kama'aina company.
But the Islands quickly took hold of Buyers, particularly their agricultural and scenic potential. His leadership of C. Brewer coincided with the decline of the Hawaiian sugar industry, but rather than conceding defeat, he pushed hard to convert sugar lands to other, more viable crops.
Soon C. Brewer became closely associated with the state's growing diversified agriculture business, producing coffee, macadamia nuts, tropical fruits and other products. So deep was Buyers' commitment to this ideal that he eventually led a leveraged buyout of the company, keeping it and its vision at home.
In the process, his company planted millions of trees — a legacy that will last for generations to come.
In business, community and public service, in agriculture and in every arena he entered, Doc Buyers was an optimistic, ebullient leader who made his adopted state a better place for all who will follow.