Sullivan Administration Building Turns 50

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the construction of the Sullivan Administration Building, completed in 1972 and named in honor of Foodland founder and Punahou Trustee Maurice Sullivan on Dec. 22, 1982.

The Sullivan Administration Building houses the School’s administrative headquarters, including the Admission, Advancement (in part), Business, Financial Aid, Human Resources, and PFA offices, as well as the President’s Office, administrative Board Room, and ticket box office for Dillingham Hall.

The administrative offices were previously housed in Pauahi Hall following the School’s displacement during World War II. In 1970, the need for additional administrative space and repairs to Pauahi Hall necessitated a new administration building. The building was constructed with funds raised in conjunction with the School’s capital fund drive for the new Bishop Hall and Learning Center.

The building’s name honors Maurice Sullivan, who was born in Ireland and sailed to the United States at the age of 17. Drafted into the Army in World War II, he was sent to Hickam Air Force Base as a buyer for the officers’ and enlisted men’s messes. His buying rounds led him to become acquainted with the Lau Kun family, owners and operators of the Lanikai Store, a small grocery store in Kailua where he worked on his days off.

After his discharge, the family invited him to work full time. There he met his future wife and business partner, the Lau’s daughter, Joanna. Together, the family, Joanna and Sullivan opened the first Foodland, Hawaiʻi’s first supermarket, in 1948.

Sullivan and Lau went on to open more than 175 retail stores, including Food Pantry, and brought McDonald’s to Hawaiʻi, eventually operating more than 75 restaurants in Hawaiʻi, Guam, Saipan and Ireland.

He devoted as much energy and enthusiasm to charitable works as he did to business. The Boy Scouts of America – Aloha Council named him Distinguished Citizen of the Year in 1984. The American Red Cross – Hawaiʻi Chapter named him Humanitarian of the Year in 1989. Sullivan served on many boards and fund-raising committees, and one of his favorite causes was St. Francis Hospital.

Sullivan served as a Punahou Trustee from 1977 – 1985. His four children Kitty ’75 Wo (Trustee), Jenai ’77 Wall, Colleen ’79 and Patrick ’81 all attended Punahou, along with three grandchildren.

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