ROD THOMPSON / RTHOMPSON@STARBULLETIN.COM
Sister Marion Kikukawa, right, is principal of St. Joseph School in Hilo, which received a gift of $1 million yesterday from 1967 graduate Clifford Dias and his wife, Katherine.
Grad gives $1 million ‘helping hand’ to school
HILO » St. Joseph School in Hilo, the only Catholic school on the Big Island, received a gift of $1 million yesterday from Clifford Dias, a 1967 graduate, and his wife, Katherine.
It was the largest gift the school has received since it was founded in 1869, said Principal Sister Marion Kikukawa.
Dias put little restriction on the use of the money, saying only that he wanted it to be used for athletic and academic programs.
Located across Hualalai Street from the Hawaii County Police Department headquarters, the school serves 400 students in preschool through grade 12.
Sister Marion Kikukawa, principal of St. Joseph School in Hilo, declared she was "overjoyed" yesterday when the school received a donation from former student Clifford Dias. The amount was $1 million.
St. Joseph at a Glance
Grades: preschool to 12
Staff: 60 (52 teachers)
Graduates per year: 40
Donations: (808) 933-1459
It was the largest gift to the Big Island's only Catholic school since it was founded in 1869.
The preschool-through-grade-12 institution with 400 students has been at its present site across Hualalai Street from the Hawaii County Police headquarters since 1948.
Dias, a 1967 graduate who made a career in banking in Oregon, explained why he aided the school. "The school is old. The buildings are old. They need help.
"I realized that a lot has changed since I graduated, but what has not changed is that kids still need support, whether it be in academics, athletics or just a friendly helping hand."
Dias was accompanied by his wife, Katherine. Their donation, to be known as the Cliff & Kathie Dias Fund, will be administered by three alumni: Morton Carter (class of '69), head of security at the Keaau campus of Kamehameha Schools; Christopher Yuen (class of '69), Hawaii County planning director; and Ronald Cambra (class of '66), assistant vice chancellor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Dias placed little restriction on the use of the money, and school officials had little time to think about where to spend it.
"We haven't figured it all out," Kikukawa said. With some thought, she said the gymnasium needs refurbishing.
Dias said one reason for donating to the school is that its education is based on values such as integrity, discipline and family.
His record as president and chief executive officer of OnPoint Community Credit Union in Portland, Ore., indicates he applied those values in his career. The credit union, with assets of $2.2 billion, was named one of "Oregon's Most Admired Companies" and for five years was named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon."
The son of a Hilo banker, Dias said he left Hilo when he graduated from St. Joseph because there were no jobs there.
He graduated from the University of Portland, served as an artillery captain in the Army and married Kathie, a registered nurse who retired in 2004 as chief nurse executive of the five-hospital Legacy Healthy Systems. Her husband retired last year.
The couple maintain homes in Portland and Kona.