The “Celebration of Life” for Bob Wo is sure to be a big event in Honolulu Sunday. In his 95 years, he accomplished much to celebrate.
Robert Ching Wo died Sept. 13. He left a large family, a successful business and a long record of philanthropy. Among those lasting achievements, he and his brother, Jim, created The Wo International Center at Punahou School. The school provides global education opportunities for K-12 students.
After World War II, the Wo brothers – Bob, Jim and Bill – transformed their family’s C.S. Wo general store into a full-line furniture store. Home Furnishings Association member C.S. Wo & Sons grew into Hawaii’s largest furniture retailer and a Top 100 retailer in the United States. Wo began importing full containers of furniture from Asia in the 1950s. Today, C.S. Wo & Sons operates a 40,000-square-foot flagship store in Honolulu and a 20,000-square-foot store in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Business success fueled giving
In 1972, Bob Wo co-founded Universal Furniture Industries. The company grew to become the world’s largest manufacturer of dining room furniture. His business achievements helped Wo make significant contributions to many local foundations. Among them: the REHAB Hospital of the Pacific, Hawaii Museum of Art, UH Foundation, Community Church of Honolulu, Culinary Institute of the Pacific, Stanford University and Mills College, as well as Punahou School.
Wo’s wife of 71 years, Betty, died in 2017. Bob Wo is survived by his brother, Jim, five sons and 12 grandchildren.