They are the unsung nobility of the Lahaina community - the altruistic visionaries that see the value of education and cultural preservation. Despite being from near and far, with a myriad of backgrounds and differing financial standing, they still hold a common core incentive: to be pono for the future of Maui and the world in general.
Charlie Fox, who passed away last month at the age of 84, was one of these contributors.
Born in Virginia, Fox earned degrees from the University of North Carolina and the University of Virginia School of Law, was a combat veteran with the United States Navy and became an advocate for justice, education and community foundations in Virginia. He and his wife, Preston, raised a family and spearheaded the formation of several educational and community foundations in Virginia.
Their sons raised and venturing out on their own lives, the couple relocated to Maui and continued their life of contributions to justice, education and cultural preservation here on the West Side.
"Charlie Fox partnered with the Hawaii Community Foundation, helped establish the Lahainaluna High School Foundation and a scholarship program at Lahainaluna High School, made numerous anonymous donations to various programs, helped establish the Friends of Lahainaluna Library, provided insight to legacy giving and strategic planning with his legal expertise, and worked with local developers to contribute to Lahainaluna," said Rob Shelton, a charter member and former president of the LHS Foundation.
"While much of his efforts were from behind the scenes, his impact was far-reaching, and Lahainaluna would not be where it is without his vision, guidance and perseverance. The results of what he's done have been amazing, and his legacy will live on for all he has done to improve our school and community," added Shelton.
Attorney Issac Hall said Fox's love for Maui inspired him to join causes to help protect and preserve the Valley Isle. "For North Beach, he got a ten-acre park in the middle of the development for perpetuity protection, and got the requirement of the developers to donate money to Lahainaluna High School," said Hall.
"We knew the Fox's through Holy Innocent's Church, and he was the quintessential Southern gentleman - charming and well-spoken. He was a very knowledgeable man, particularly with the justice system, and became the powerhouse behind the North Beach intervention and the establishment of the LHS Foundation, as well as personally contributing anonymously to the scholarship funds," said former LHS English teacher Penny Wakida.
According to family friend Dr. Darcel Gilbert, Charlie demonstrated a very tender side of his persona in the waning years of his life. "Mrs. Fox had Alzheimer's, and he cared for her even as his own health was failing. It was heartbreaking to see him try to save and comfort her. He just had vast contributions to our community in so many ways - a wonderful man," he said.
Charlie Fox leaves behind his wife, Preston; sons Charles D. (Beth) Fox IV and Frank P. Fox; grandchildren Quent, Elm, Anna and Sam; and brother Carter V. Fox. The Fox family will be on Maui for a scattering of ashes ceremony at Canoe Beach on April 11 at 10:30 a.m.
Condolences may be sent to Preston Fox and Family, Kahala Nui, 4389 Mallia St., Honolulu, HI 96821. Memorial donations may be made to the University of Virginia Law School Foundation, 580 Massey Road, Charlottesville, VA, 22903-1738; Lahainaluna High School Foundation, P.O. Box 11617, Lahaina, HI 96761; or Smithfield Preston Foundation, P.O. Box 11531, Blacksburg, VA 24062-1531.