Campbell Estate ceases to exist after midnight
By Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Rick Daysog
The Estate of James Campbell, one of the nation's largest family fortunes, terminates after midnight tonight.
Under Campbell's will, the trust was to terminate 20 years after the death of his last surviving daughter. The daughter, Beatrice Campbell Wrigley, died on Jan. 21, 1987.
The termination marks the end of an era that has spanned more than 100 years.
"In many ways, the story of the Campbell Estate mirrors the economic transformation of Hawai'i during the past century and to some extent it may have spurred some of those economic changes," said David Ramsour, a Dallas-based financial management executive and a former chief economist at the Bank of Hawaii.
The estate will complete the transfer of the majority of its assets to a successor entity, James Campbell Co., next week. Campbell Estate spokeswoman Theresia McMurdo confirmed the effective date of the trust's termination but declined further comment. She said the trust is withholding comment until the transition of most assets is completed next week.
Established in 1900, the Campbell Estate is a for-profit trust set up by Scottish carpenter James Campbell to benefit his heirs. Its holdings were valued at $3 million when it was founded.
As of Dec. 31, 2005, the trust was valued at $2.3 billion and its assets included 55,400 acres of land in Hawai'i and 16.6 million square feet of office, retail and industrial properties on the Mainland.
State Probate Court records show that six heirs to the Campbell Estate fortune are set to receive $100 million or more, while another 15 members of the family will receive at least $50 million upon termination.
But unlike Hawai'i's other large family fortune, the Estate of Samuel Mills Damon, which terminated in 2004 and is liquidating its assets, the Campbell Estate established a successor entity, James Campbell Co., which will assume a majority of the trust's assets.
Most of Campbell's heirs opted to take their distributions in the form of stock in the successor company, which will continue the trust's efforts to develop Kapolei and will manage its Mainland real estate.
Ramsour, the economist, believes the growth of the Campbell Estate is a product of prudent management decisions.
Decades ago when Hawai'i's agriculture-based economy was faltering, the trust developed light industrial parks and other commercial real estate, which not only benefited the trust's bottom line but helped diversify the state's economy, he said.
The trust also invested hundreds of millions of dollars to develop Kapolei, transforming the former agricultural lands into a major residential and commercial center.
"Over the years, the Campbell Estate has been a major force in Hawai'i's economy," said local journalist and historian Tom Coffman.
Reach Rick Daysog at firstname.lastname@example.org.