[ HUGH R. PINGREE / 1926-2004 ]

First Hawaiian executive
was a ‘banking genius’

Hugh R. Pingree, who worked his way up the ranks at First Hawaiian Bank during a 39-year career to become president and vice chairman, died Thursday at age 77.

Pingree, who served under the bank's late chairman and chief executive John Bellinger, stayed active with First Hawaiian after retiring in 1988 and was on the bank's board of directors until 1996. He also served as a director of its holding company and its subsidiary, First Hawaiian Creditcorp.

"He was a gentle giant of a man -- a humble guy who had risen up in the ranks and knew how hard it was," said Walter Dods Jr., chairman and CEO of First Hawaiian. "He was a true banking genius, but he never forgot where he came from."

Pingree, who was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Southern California, moved to Hawaii in 1949 and went to work as a teller and clerk at what was then known as Bishop National Bank of Hawaii -- now First Hawaiian Bank. He became assistant vice president in 1959, executive vice president of the bank's operations administration division in 1975, president in 1979 and vice chairman in 1984.

He also served in World War II, where he was wounded.

Dods recalled that Pingree "carried shrapnel from the war around in his leg for years but never complained."

In a statement, his daughters -- Debra L. Heien, Robyn Starr Pistor and Gayle L. Pingree, vice president and area manager at First Hawaiian's Waipahu branch -- said: "Our dad loved life. He loved people, he loved the bank and he loved Hawaii. He taught us the value of hard work and showed us that the path to success was to treat people fairly and with kindness."

Pingree is survived by wife C.J., the three daughters and five grandchildren.

The family, in keeping with Pingree's wishes, will hold a small private service at Diamond Head Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association, Hawaii Affiliate, 1500 S. Beretania St., Suite 111, Honolulu 96826.



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