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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 15, 2010

Philanthropist David Twigg-Smith

Special to The Advertiser

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

David Twigg-Smith

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David Twigg-Smith, a Hawai'i philanthropist and treasurer of The Honolulu Advertiser and Persis Corporation for nearly 30 years, died Wednesday in his sleep at his Diamond Head home. He was 85.

Twigg-Smith was attending Punahou School when World War II started and served as a volunteer neighborhood watch officer. Upon graduation in 1942, he attended Yale University. In 1944 he joined the Army, serving in the Philippines, where he trained in underwater demolition.

He deployed to Japan following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where his ship steamed past the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay awaiting the signing of the Instrument of Surrender which ended the war. In Japan, he inspected bridges and built roads with the Army Corps of Engineers.

After military service, Twigg-Smith returned to Yale and completed his degree in industrial engineering. He joined the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association in 1948, settling in Keaukaha, Hilo, where he retired as assistant manager of Puna Sugar in 1969.

He then joined the family businesses of Persis Corp. and The Honolulu Advertiser, serving as treasurer of the two companies. The family sold the The Advertiser to Gannett Corp. in 1993. Twigg-Smith retired from both companies at that time. His brother, Thurston, continued as publisher and president until 2002.

"David was our strategic thinker," Thurston said, "and played a role in Persis' investments in other fields."

A fifth-generation resident of the Islands, David Twigg-Smith also helped represent the companies in the community. He served as a trustee and treasurer of the Bishop Museum for many years and in 1990 was awarded the museum's Charles Reed Bishop medal in recognition of his service.

He and Benedict Mitchell were married in Connecticut in 1954. While raising their family and in their later years, they enjoyed traveling extensively throughout Europe camping and painting. When the family moved from Hilo to Honolulu in 1976, he spent his free time beachcombing and walking.

He is survived by his wife, Benedict; sons Christian, Desmond, Timothy and Michael; daughters Lucy Gospodnetich, Sophie Teururai, Oona Perez de Ayala and Mona Cameron (hānai); and 14 grandchildren.

A celebration of life will be observed Jan. 25. at Kōlea House, 2831 Coconut Ave., on Kaluahole Beach. The service will begin at 9:30 a.m., with scattering of ashes to follow. Aloha attire.