Categorized | Education

New UH-Hilo scholarship in honor of Beatrice and Ralph Lau


Beatrice and Ralph Lau

Beatrice and Ralph Lau

HILO – Hilo lost a prominent member of the local Chinese-American community with the death of Beatrice Kam Lin Loo Lau on February 15 at the age of 95. Thanks to a $10,000 leadership gift from the Chinese Civic Association of Hawaii, one of the many community organizations with which Bea Lau was active, a permanently endowed scholarship has been established at the University of Hawai‘i Foundation in her name and that of her late husband, Ralph K.Y. Lau. Other friends and family members are making additional contributions, and once fully endowed, the Beatrice and Ralph Lau Memorial Scholarship Endowment will provide tuition assistance to future generations of UH Hilo students preparing for careers like the Lau’s in business and/or education.

Bea Lau was born and raised in Honolulu. After graduating from Roosevelt High School, she attended Whittier College in California, but her undergraduate studies were cut short by the death of her mother. She returned home and completed her Bachelor in Education and earned a professional teaching diploma at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Mrs. Lau’s first teaching position was on the Big Island at Laupahoehoe School, and it was there she met and married Ralph Lau, the owner and manager of Hilo Dry Goods, Ltd., a legendary downtown Hilo business founded in 1915 by Chinese immigrants.

Beatrice and Ralph Lau were pillars of the local community, working hard, raising three daughters, and volunteering on boards and committees for numerous community organizations in Hilo. Bea taught at Hilo Intermediate School and the Ernest B. DeSilva School, served as State Library Commissioner and as president of the Chinese Civic Association. She was also a member of the UH Hilo Chancellor’s Advisory Board. Ralph was a co-founder and president of what became the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association, and he served on the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce committee which worked on the original Merrie Monarch Festival before Dottie Thompson started managing the landmark event. Ralph predeceased his wife, dying in 2009 at the age of 96, only one year after discontinuing his daily commute to manage his rental property business out of the Hilo Dry Goods site.

The Chinese Civic Association’s popular “Taste of Asia” fundraiser was Bea Lau’s brainchild; under her direction, this annual event raised funds to support student scholarships and library materials for Chinese studies at UH Hilo. Mrs. Lau almost single-handedly recruited the participating restaurants and vendors who presented eclectic samples of gourmet cuisine to audiences of up to 400 guests. In presenting the lead gift of $10,000, CCA President Russ Oda commented, “Bea contributed greatly as president and member of the Chinese Civic Association. Her comments at meetings were always positive and constructive, sprinkled with her sense of humor. She has done so much for the Chinese and other communities on the Big Island; thus it was fitting for our organization to help establish a memorial scholarship in Bea’s and Ralph’s names.”

In accepting this gift on behalf of the university, Chancellor Don Straney commented, “Mr. and Mrs. Lau touched many lives in Hilo during their lifetimes, and they will continue doing so through the perpetual scholarship that bears their names.”

To make a contribution to honor the Lau legacy in Hilo, please contact Margaret Shiba at margaret.shiba@uhfoundation.or… or (808) 933-0829. You can also make a gift online at…

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