Why We Give: Julia Sia ’46 Ing

When the Julia Ing Collection for Young Readers opened at the Sidney and Minnie Kosasa Community in 2019, children were dazzled by the bright, inviting space, teeming with books, colorful, convertible furniture, cozy reading nooks and even a fun tunnel connecting areas of the thoughtfully designed space.

Trustee Emerita Julia Sia ’46 Ing, a devoted donor who celebrates her 75th Reunion this June, is the namesake behind this innovative multimedia library for children in kindergarten through grade four. Over the past several decades, she has made an indelible impact at Punahou with her many contributions.

A gifted pianist, she taught at the Music School for many years after college and was actively engaged with Punahou life as an alumna, parent and volunteer. After being appointed as a Trustee in 1977, she served on the Board for 27 years. In 1994, Punahou Alumni Association awarded her the “O” in Life, the group’s highest annual honor bestowed to someone who exemplifies the ideals of service to the School and community.

The Ing family’s ties also run deep at the School, and across generations. Julia and her husband, the late Sheridan “Sherry” Ing, are parents of four Punahou alumni – Louise ’70, Laura ’71, Carolyn ’74 and Richard ’78. All six grandchildren – Katie Baker ’00, Beth Baker ’01 Vallarino, Kurt Zwald ’02, Travis Ing ’08, Colby Ing ’11 and Julia Sitch ’15 – also are alumni.

Believing passionately in the power of literacy, Julia and Sheridan made a major commitment to support the rebuilding of the library in the former Winne Units. Dedicated in 1990, the Julia Ing Learning Center served thousands of eager young readers, inspired by its vast array of books and multimedia offerings. The Ing Learning Center was regarded as one of Winne’s most beloved spots for more than 25 years.

When the Kosasa Community was conceptualized and designed, Punahou made the decision to carry Julia’s name to the new library in the Junior School Learning Commons. She graciously made another generous donation toward the construction of the Julia Ing Collection for Young Readers, which resulted in a sprawling, creative destination with more than 30,000 books and materials for the School’s youngest students.

Richard joined his mother in support of the new library with his own donation. “My wife, Susan, and I, with our sons, Travis and Colby, felt it was important to support the Kosasa Community, because generations of our Ing family were beneficiaries of a Punahou education,” he said. “When Trustee Kitty Wo informed us that my mom’s name would continue to be associated with the library, we were very excited and felt it was also important to carry on the legacy of my parents’ initial donation. The Kosasa Community and Junior School Learning Commons are so well planned and thoughtful. I wish I could be a kid again.”

Meanwhile, Julia’s daughters, Louise Ing ’70 and Laura Ing ’71 Baker, followed their mother’s dedication to service by taking leadership roles on their 50th Reunion committees, helping to organize fundraising, activities and Reunion events. Additionally, after visiting the new Junior School Learning Commons at Kosasa in the fall of 2019, they decided to each make a 50th Reunion gift in support of the library, carrying on their mother’s legacy. Their joint gift will establish an endowed fund to create an enduring gift beyond bricks and mortar.

“Talking with the Advancement officers, particularly Carrie Ogami, really helped raise my awareness of how we siblings could collaborate on designing Reunion gifts to Punahou, which build on the legacy started by our parents,” Louise said. “I still have fond memories of visits to the bright, open spaces of the Winne Units’ Damon Library to explore books. I hope our family’s gifts create happy memories and instill a love of reading in many generations of young students.”

As a tribute to their mother’s interest in early childhood literacy, the Ing Family Endowed Fund for Young Readers will support programs and activities at the library, such as author and illustrator visits, writing and publishing workshops, music and art integration activities, cooking workshops, and art activities and supplies connected with literature.

“The new library is so much fun,” Laura said. “The kid-size entry; the seating areas where the children can get into their most comfortable reading positions; books displayed to excite even non-enthusiastic readers – how could you not want to pick up a book and read? I am thrilled to be supporting Punahou in this way and building on my parents’ legacy. The Damon Library was a happy place for me as the Julia Ing Learning Center was for my daughters. It’s exciting to think of the opportunities ahead for both teachers and students.”

Even during the unusual circumstances of teaching and learning during the pandemic, the Julia Ing Collection continues to be a valuable resource to students and teachers through small group browsing, book cart deliveries and online book requesting. Punahou’s K – 1 Librarian Marci Johnstone ’87 speaks glowingly of Julia’s influence on the library over the decades. “I cannot thank the Ing Family enough for the gift that they have provided to the students,” she said. “They have provided our students with a space where they can get excited about books, where they can discover books, where they can talk about and share books with their friends. They have provided us with a space where I can watch children fall in love with reading and that brings me so much joy.”

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