Old Dad New Dad

In his 60s, and with his first family grown up, former Alexander & Baldwin CEO Allen Doane is starting over - and loving every minute. In the classic Russian novel Strange Life of Ivan Osokin, the protagonist finds himself living his life again while retaining all the knowledge of his first try at it

Wednesday - July 21, 2010
By Chad Pata
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In the classic Russian novel Strange Life of Ivan Osokin, the protagonist finds himself living his life again while retaining all the knowledge of his first try at it, yet finds himself virtually powerless to change the mistakes he made previously.

Former Alexander & Baldwin CEO Allen Doane is trying to fly in the face of P. D. Oupensky’s novel and its theory of eternal recurrence as he begins fatherhood again at the age of 62.

“I did learn quite a bit the first go around,” says Doane from his office on the ground floor of the Alexander & Baldwin building on Bishop Street. “They say good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. It’s kind of circular - you learn from your mistakes.”

Doane has his share of experience, having raised five children with his first wife. His progeny are spread across the globe from the Mainland West Coast to England, already producing four grandchildren ranging from 16 years to 6 months.

“I call them ‘The Big 5,’” says Doane with a laugh, as a nod to his company’s roots here in the Islands. “It was tough explaining to my 12-year-old grandson that his uncle had just been born!”

Doane married his wife Christina in 2003 and decided to start a family again, first having a son Alexander, now 4, and a daughter Audriana, who just turned 1. But why on earth would a man who has accomplished all that he has start over at the age most men would be looking forward to the golf course and a cruise ship?

Allen Doane with wife Christina, Alexander and Audriana

“I’ve got the time now and the disposition. I love all my children - it’s not like I love these two more than the first five, it’s just that I’m wiser and I have the time,” says Doane.

“I thought I was a pretty good dad the first go around, but the biggest problem I had was I was always gone,” adds Doane, citing a letter written by his son John when he was 9 making that very complaint.

“You just don’t put the time in that you really want to, and maybe I couldn’t put that time in then, but I can now. And the time I did have I was a little combat fatigued. You think you are doing a great job, but after a 60-, 70-hour work week, you’re a little distracted.”

These days Doane, here with Debbie Pabalan at A&B, says he goes ‘to the office, not work’

His belief that one can take on the role of parenting in his 60s comes from his roots. Doane was raised in a working class area of Philadelphia by his grandmother Margaret McGregor, who had seven children herself, the last of whom was Doane’s mother, who abandoned him with McGregor.

“She came from a generation where you had to rely on yourself, very humble, very quiet and tough-minded,” says Doane. “The concept of unconditional love - whatever I did, wherever I was, she was there for me. I saw how hard she worked at her age; it really was an inspiration. There were no mission statements back then; her values were how she lived her life.”

She raised him as her own while running a rooming house, and Doane never really felt he was missing out on anything.

“Being loved by one person who really cares about you is a lot better than having two parents who were going through the motions,” says Doane. “Anything I have ever done well is a result of her, anything I haven’t done so well is my own fault!”

It was not the ideal way to grow up, but the neighborhood was filled with aunts and uncles, and in those days Doane had no idea he was missing out on anything.

“In today’s harsher media environment, I don’t know that it would be called privileged, but when I grew up I didn’t know the difference - for miles around everyone was like we were,” says Doane, who took his new wife back to see the old neighborhood but had to cut the tour short once she got spooked by seeing the bars on the windows of his old high school.

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