Rasa Fournier
Wednesday - November 14, 2007
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Robert “Bob” Midkiff has served in leadership roles for more than 30 prestigious organizations including Good Beginnings Alliance, Aloha United Way, Hawaii Visitors Bureau and Hawaii Theatre Center. For his work in spearheading the restoration of Hawaii Theatre, Midkiff was recognized last November with the National Preservation Honor Award.

Days after receiving the award, while still on the Mainland, tragedy struck.

“We were having a great time (visiting relatives),” says Midkiff, 87. “And all of a sudden I was sitting at breakfast and looked back and forth and said, ‘Where am I?’”

He had suffered a stroke. To recover, he spends his days walking Kahala Beach (which fronts the property where he has lived since 1950), swimming and practicing speaking for four or five hours each day. He also keeps up a years-long tradition of playing golf with his buddies.

His recovery process didn’t deter Midkiff from attending an important event in Georgia on Sept. 26. The recent past president of the Atherton Family Foundation was honored with the 2007 Fred Rogers Leadership Award in Philanthropy for Children, Youth and Families. The award came with a trophy - a replica of the little red trolley depicted at the beginning of each episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood - and $5,000 for the charity of his choice. The staunch child advocate and past president of Good Beginnings Alliance chose GBA.

“Midkiff is an education champion,” says executive director of GBA, Elisabeth Chun. “Every public policy, media, business and philanthropic leader in Hawaii knows that Bob Midkiff stands for helping children. He is a visionary with a dream for a Hawaii where all children grow up safe, healthy and ready to succeed.”

Midkiff is delighted with his little red trolley and with memories of meeting Mrs. Joanne Rogers. He’s even been tuning into PBS to check out the famous Neighborhood. “Mrs. Rogers is a wonderful lady,” says Midkiff. “Every word out of her mouth was something positive.”

The many who know him are likewise impressed with Mr. Midkiff and his myriad of accomplishments as a philanthropist.

His prodigious career has now given way to quiet time with the family. A patriarch, Midkiff’s marriage of 59 years to wife Evanita produced five children and six grandchildren that range in age from 15 to 26. The 1938 Punahou grad also enjoys the company of Miki, his dog from the Humane Society. Daughter Mary, the self-titled “designated driver and social secretary,” spends the day helping Mom and Dad around the house. Daughter Robin has followed in her father’s footsteps, serving on the Atherton Family Foundation board.


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