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Architect helped build Hawaii

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Gerald L. "Jerry" Allison had such a long and prolific career as an architect in Hawaii and around the globe that he outlived several of his creations, including the Kuhio Theater in Waikiki.

The longtime partner in one of Hawaii’s best-known architectural firms, WATG, died Friday after a struggle with gastric melanoma.

Allison was 78.

The "A" in the Honolulu-based firm for many years known as Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo had a 50-year career with the company and was involved in designing some of the world’s most memorable resorts.

Among creations in which Allison had a hand: Kauai’s Coco Palms Resort, the Disneyland Hotel in Paris, Hotel Bora Bora in French Polynesia, Palace of the Golden Horses in Kuala Lumpur and The Mansion at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

"His influence on WATG and the hospitality industry is forever memorialized in the people that he touched and the highly respected body of work that he leaves behind," said WATG Chairman Larry Rocha. "Jerry will be deeply missed."

Allison was born and reared in Seattle, and was hired by the firm initially known as Wimberly & Cook in 1957, two years after graduating from the University of Washington’s School of Architecture.

The young architect helped design a variety of buildings in Hawaii, including Kailua Baptist Church and the Pali Lanes bowling alley. But like WATG, Allison’s work largely focused on resort proj­ects.

Hyatt hotels in Waikiki and Maui, the Sheraton Maui, Palace of the Lost City in South Africa, Paradise Island in the Bahamas, Disneyland’s Grand Floridian Beach Resort in Florida and the Garden Wing of the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore are among Allison’s work.

WATG said Allison was deeply involved in the success of the company and its international expansion.

Allison spent 25 years in Hono­lulu with WATG, then moved to California in the early 1980s where he worked closely with Pete Wimberly to pioneer exporting the firm’s design services throughout Asia and the Pacific. Allison retired in 2007.

"He will be remembered by many in the firm — and in the industry — as a creative genius, a terrific storyteller, a good-humor man, a generous and caring mentor and an all-around great guy," said Howard Wolff, WATG senior vice president. "In many ways he was the company’s conscience, reminding us to focus on lifting people’s spirits and providing great design."

Allison died at home in Newport Beach, Calif., surrounded by his family.

He is survived by wife Charlotte; daughters Ruth Anne Herman (Steve Herman) and Lynn Allison Unflat (Dr. John Unflat), and six grandchildren.

Memorial services will be at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach on May 6 at 11 a.m., followed by a reception. Allison’s family plans to scatter his ashes later in the ocean off of the Outrigger Canoe Club in Waikiki.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Gerald L. Allison Scholarship Fund at the University of Washington by mail: UW Office of Gift Proc­ess­ing, Box 359505, Seattle, WA 98195-9505.

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