A gifted leader and devoted family man, Dan Case was animated by a devotion to helping others that remained constant from a childhood spent on a Kauai sugar plantation, distinguished service with the Navy, and a 60-year career as one of Hawaii‘s most successful attorneys and steadfast civic volunteers.
Case died at his home in Honolulu today. He was 91.
Case grew up on the Grove Farm sugar plantation, where his father worked as an office manager. At age 12, he traveled to Oahu to attend Punahou School. He was a senior when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, and he and his classmates finished their schooling at Central Union Church while the Punahou campus was under military command.
After high school, Case attended Williams College in Massachusetts, where he set records as a competitive swimmer and co-captained the school’s championship swim team. In 1945, he joined the Navy and served on an elite underwater demolition team that was a precursor for the Navy SEALs.
After four years of service, Case entered law school at the University of Denver.
He returned to Hawaii to practice law, accepting the first job offer than came his way.
He would remain at Pratt, Tavares & Cassidy — later Case, Lombardi & Pettit — until his retirement in 2012.
Shortly after returning to Hawaii, Case met his future wife, Carol, at a friend’s wedding. The two were married for 61 years.
While Case earned a reputation as an astute, principled attorney, he was equally well known for his business and community leadership.
In 2000, Case’s son Steve, co-founder of America Online and former chairman of AOL Time Warner, bought Grove Farm and Case assumed the position of chairman, which he held for 15 years. Case oversaw the 38,000-acre former sugar plantation’s transition into a sustainable community and economic development firm.
Case’s influence was widespread. He was an investor and board member for Oahu Publications, which owns the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and sat on the board of Maui Land & Pineapple Co. He also served as president of the Rotary Club of Honolulu and the Hawaii State Bar Association.
Throughout his life, Case retained close ties to his high school alma mater, serving on the Punahou School Board of Trustees for 30 years, including 10 as chairman. He also was chairman of the school’s 150th anniversary celebration and was a recipient of the “O” in Life Award, the school’s highest honor.
In 2012, the National Association of Independent Schools presented Case with the Seymour Preston Award in recognition of his exceptional leadership as a school trustee.
Case was preceded in death by his eldest son Dan in 2002. He is survived by his wife Carol; daughter Carin (Matt); sons Steve (Jean) and Jeff (Kimberly); daughter-in-law Stacey (Dan); brother Jim; and 12 grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be held at 4 p.m. Sept. 3 at Punahou School’s Thurston Memorial Chapel, followed by a reception at the President’s Pavilion. In lieu of flowers, donations honoring Case’s legacy may be made to Punahou School (808ne.ws/299rCAd) or Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (808ne.ws/29aedEg).