Hawai‘i Travel Industry Visionary & Leader Dies

May 21, 2019, 12:22 PM HST (Updated May 21, 2019, 12:22 PM)
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Chuck Gee. PC: UH

Chuck Gee, co-founder and longest-serving dean of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa School of Travel Industry Management (TIM), passed away on May 17, 2019.

Gee served as TIM dean from 1976 until his retirement in 1999. He also served on the UH Board of Regents from 2009 to 2015.

The Board of Regents honored him with the Regents Medal of Distinction at its May 16 meeting. Gee passed away later that night.

“Dean Gee had great vision for UH as a leader in training generations of tourism executives. His influence was strong in Hawai‘i and internationally, especially in the Asia-Pacific region,” Board Chair Lee Putnam said. “It was my privilege to work with him for several decades, both on campus and with the board. His dedication and passion for the university and for Hawai‘i, will continue to be an inspiration for all who had the pleasure of knowing Chuck.”

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“Chuck was one of those people who lived aloha,” Regent Jeff Portnoy said. “People loved Chuck because he was such a good-natured and generous person. His imprint on UH Mānoa and this state will live on for decades to come.”

Gee’s expertise in tourism has earned him many recognitions including being named to the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s (PATA) Gallery of Legends, honorary academic doctorates and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin naming him one of the 100 people who made a difference to Hawaiʻi in the 20th century. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the president of Taiwan in 2011 for his contributions to Taiwan’s tourism industry.

During the PATA presentation Gee said he is proudest of the impact UH and its graduates have had, and continue to have, on the tourism industry. “You need a lot of talented people and you need not just people who have functional skills, you need the chefs, you need the people who know how to run the hotels but most of all you need visionaries, you need leaders, and that’s what I think we do at the University of Hawaiʻi.”

His contributions to the state and the university continue beyond his tenure. The C. Yim Gee Sustainable Tourism Research Fund was established in his name at UH Mānoa in 2018 in honor of his 85th birthday. His vision for the fund was to encourage faculty and students to explore sustainable tourism as it affects Hawaiʻi, Asia and the Pacific.

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