DUDLEY CHILD / 1931-2004

Resort founder
boosted neighbor isles


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

» Resort executive Dudley Child opened the Kauai Surf resort in 1960. A Page A4 obituary in yesterday's morning edition incorrectly identified the resort as the Kona Surf. Child also operated a chain of budget hotels called the Islander Inns, not the Interisland Inns as reported.

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Walter D. "Dudley" Child Jr., a resort executive whose Inter-Island Resort Corp. fostered the growth of neighbor island tourism as Hawaii grew with statehood, died Sunday at his Waimea home on the Big Island. He was 73.

Although Inter-Island was dissolved in the 1980s, its many hotels remain, such as the four "Surf" resorts on Kauai and Maui and in Kona and Hilo.

"He was also a very gentle businessman," said marketing company owner Priscilla Texeira. "He championed giving local folks management positions."

Describing herself as "a little girl who started out in the cane fields" on Kauai, Texeira said that Child allowed her to rise to the position of sales director for the company. Others used management skills learned with Inter-Island to become government leaders, she said.

Besides growing his company, Child recognized the need for public facilities to grow, said former Inter-island executive Bill Mielke. Child ensured that Mielke had time in the 1960s to work on the creation of the airport at Keahole, North Kona, and development of Queen Kaahumanu Highway, now the gateway to most West Hawaii resorts.

Child's father, Walter Sr., had entered the hotel business by buying the Blaisdell Hotel in downtown Honolulu in the 1930s. Child attended Cornell University in New York in the 1950s but returned to run the company after his father had a stroke, said Rep. Bob Herkes, a former company executive.

In 1960 the company opened the Kona Surf, so opulent that it was the first neighbor island hotel to have an elevator, Herkes said. It was so large for its day, 104 rooms, that Child worried about whether the DC-3 interisland airplanes could carry enough guests.

While Child developed the five-star Surf resorts, he also pioneered the budget-priced Interisland Inns, said Richard Kelley, whose Outrigger resorts focused on Waikiki while Child concentrated on the neighbor islands.

Child enjoyed a range of activities outside of business. He was a pole-vaulter at Punahou, said Star-Bulletin columnist Ben Wood, who attended Lincoln (Elementary) School with him.

Herkes remembers hunting and fishing with Child, who also liked to ride a motorcycle, sail with his family and pilot his own plane.

"He was a great family man," Kelley said.

Child is survived by wife Mary Lou, five children and several grandchildren. Services are pending.

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