Wednesday, November 4, 1998

Robert Dye honored
for lifetime of service

By Harold Morse


Robert Dye's lifetime of service to the YMCA earned him its highest honor: induction into the YMCA Hall of Fame Friday in Orlando, Fla.

He is the first Hawaii resident to win the honor.

"It's just a wonderful honor to be selected," said Dye. "This is something you don't expect but are delighted about when it happens."

A committee of YMCA members from around the country chose Dye for the Hall of Fame.

"We wish to recognize your outstanding career of YMCA professional service and your life as an exceptional person," said Kurt Kramer, Hall of Fame coordinator. "You have been a mentor and an inspiration to many in the YMCA, and you leave a legacy of noteworthy achievements."

Dye of Hawaii Kai and five others will be inducted, including James Naismith, who in 1891 invented the game of basketball in a YMCA gym in Springfield, Mass. Springfield College is the site of the YMCA Hall of Fame.

"This is a great tribute for a truly great person," said Don Anderson, YMCA of Honolulu president. "Bob has had a tremendous impact on the work of the YMCA, locally, nationally and internationally, and his accomplishments have benefited huge numbers of people."

Dye was born in Honolulu and grew up in Kaimuki and attended Roosevelt High School, where he graduated in 1938.

Dye's maternal grandfather, Augusto Dias, along with friend Henry Nunes, introduced a musical instrument from Portugal in the early 1880s that became the ukulele. Dias was a favorite performer of King Kalakaua's. Additionally, Dye's father, John H. Dye, named Aloha Tower.

Dye went to California, beginning his YMCA career in 1946, first in Los Angeles, then as branch executive at Gardena.

He came to Hawaii in 1951 and was appointed executive director of Nuuanu YMCA. In 1960, he became the first Hawaii-born resident named chief executive of the YMCA of Honolulu.

He remained in that post until 1967 and led the drive to build new YMCA branch facilities for Nuuanu, Kaimuki-Waialae and West Oahu. Then, the national YMCA headquarters recruited Dye as its director of urban development and extension.

He directed workshops in response to the summer of mainland rioting, initiating a six-week dialogue between police and street youths in Buffalo, N.Y.

He directed national YMCA programs until 1983, charting a course to make the entire organization more responsive to crises and issues. In 1972, Dye helped develop "Miami Outreach," which used 100 YMCA outreach workers to keep communication open between police and Vietnam War protesters in Miami in the time of two presidential conventions.

In 1983, Dye was transferred to Geneva, Switzerland, to become coordinator of program services for the World Alliance of YMCAs, where he served as liaison with the United Nations.

In 1986, he concluded a 40-year YMCA career, retiring to Honolulu. For the past 12 years, he has spent much time in volunteer work here, also traveling with his wife of 52 years, Esther. They have five children.

After his induction, Dye and his wife will fly to Shanghai to take part in an international symposium on community resources and volunteers Wednesday and Thursday . Dye will speak to Chinese and other Asian YMCA leaders on the need for close cooperation among organizations.

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