August 3, 1943 – May 2, 2018
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Rick Wall realized he’d found his “real home” when he arrived in Hawaii in 1966, as one of IBM’s top salespeople. From that point, he embraced Hawaii’s culture and Aloha spirit, and incorporated them into his personal and professional life as much as he could.
Rick’s siblings – brother Bernie and sisters Barbara Gruendell and Bonnie Wall – knew him as a brother of few words, but one who loved them dearly. He liked to describe his parents, Ralph and Bernice, as “salt-of-the-earth Utah folk.” One of his favorite memories was standing with his father on the cliff-line above Hanalei Bay one evening, the moonlight glimmering on the water below. Putting his arm around his father, Rick said, “It’s as pretty as Salt Lake, isn’t it?” After a moment of silence, his dad replied, “Almost.” It was a succinct response that made Rick break into his
characteristically impish grin whenever he told the story. Not long after Rick made Hawaii his home, he and high-school sweetheart Judi Swalberg married; and although they later parted, they continued to be friendly throughout his life. Their lasting friendship was a reflection of the strong loyalty Rick felt and gave to those with whom he became close, from Hawaii to Guam to Asia. Rick’s determination to be a success began at a very early age. As an 8 year-old, he sold newspapers and pies in his neighborhood. In high school, he convinced Haggar Clothing to provide him and a small group of friends with slacks in exchange for their regularly wearing and promoting them. Salesmanship and dapper dressing were among his trademarks throughout his adult life. After IBM brought him to Honolulu, Rick struck out on his own and ventured into real estate, owning a radio station and furniture store on Guam. Then came the opportunity to manage the purchase of Hanalei Bay Resort for a financial institution in the late 1970s. Rick loved the area, for both its beauty and opportunity, so began purchasing units at the condo resort. In 1988, he formed an investment group, The Castle Group, withinternational connections he’d made, thus launching his career in tourism. In 1993, Rick was named Chairman and CEO of The Castle Group. In the same year, the company acquired Hawaii Pacific Resorts, extending its reach statewide; and formed Castle Resorts & Hotels. In 1994, The Castle Group became a public company, traded as CAGU on the stock market.By 1997, The Castle Group had entered Micronesia, New Zealand and eventually Thailand. Rick served as a member of the board of directors for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau; as a member of its executive committee, and as chair of its government affairs committee. He also formed the Visitor Industry Coalition to support the Hawaii Tourism Authority; and was an active member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Strong determination and confidence, an ability to build connections between people, a competitive nature and can-do/will-do spirit was foundational to Rick’s business success. But he is perhaps best known forhis energetic mix of personal characteristics – his love of practical jokes; his wry and often subtle sense of humor; and most important, his willingness to offer support and his own brand of wisdom to friends in difficult times. Rick met his perfect match in Jan Lai, when close friend and business partner, Gary Oda, introduced them in 2015. Jan, who currently serves as Senior Vice President and Relationship Manager for Bank of Hawaii, fondly recalls some of their first memories together in their relationship, noting Rick’s strong personality and upfront honesty was something she, and all who knew him, highly revered. Jan remained steadfast by his side through the end of his life. Rick will always be fondly remembered as the one who keptthe back-room Pacific Club card gamesentertaining; who regularly held court in the men’s grill at Oahu Country Club; who loved to “up the ante” with fellow golfers on the course; who would occasionally bellow “Be a MAN, Chilly-Boy”; as the bodacious guy who led the Pacific Club’s unofficial “motorcycle club” on his bubblegum pink Harley Davidson; who saluted Honolulu Marathoners with a Mimosa every year when they ran by his condo at Diamond Head; who championed tradition and teasingly bemoaned the demise of male domination. Yet, beneath the bravado, he was most of all the one who gently cuddled his cat, who he named “Cat,” through its last days; who always had the time, encouraging word and heartfelt counsel for a friend in need; who was always ready with a warm handshake and an “Aloooha,” who loved early weekend mornings with the New York Times crossword puzzle and his Saturday golf game with his gang. And when others were being practical, cautious and perhaps skeptical, he was the onewould show up, step forward and expect miracles. “I believe in rainbows,” Rick once stated emphatically to a close friend. We believe he’s in them now. A Celebration of Rick’s Life will be held on Wednesday, May 30, 2018, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at The Pacific Club in Honolulu. All are invited to attend and be a part of it. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to The Richard “Rick” Wall Fund with the Hawaii Community Foundation in support of Rick’s favorite charities, c/o Castle Resorts & Hotels, 500 Ala Moana Blvd, Building #3, Suite 555, Honolulu, HI 96813.