Bess died in 1951. Henry remarried shortly after. He and his new wife went on vacation in Hawaii in 1954 and never left. When he couldn’t stay in a Waikiki hotel because they were full, he began to plan and build his own hotel. He called it the Hawaiian Village, now known as the Hilton Hawaiian Village. He became one of the earliest and biggest boosters of tourism in Hawaii. He encouraged airlines to increase flights to Hawaii. He bought television and radio stations, both in Hawaii and mainland, to promote tourism.
In 1959, he leased 6,000 acres in East Honolulu and started a $350 million housing project called Hawaii Kai. Then he built a palace of his own along the shoreline of Hawaii Kai.
Although already in his seventies and semi-retired, he was up at 5:30 a.m. and off to work usually until 7 p.m. But he loved the island paradise and made time to enjoy it. He was a supporter of Hawaii’s baseball team, the Islanders, and attended many of the home games at the old Honolulu Stadium. He also supported all sorts of community projects.
He lived the last 13 years of his life in Hawaii. His “retirement” to Hawaii had made a big impact on the islands. He had come to Hawaii with his new wife, not to take it easy but to do his own thing in his own way. His wealth, energy, determination and imagination had him going from one project to another. His mind was always thinking of what he could build, what problems he could solve and how he could create jobs for Hawaiian workers. Although he only slept a few hours at night, he was blessed with boundless energy. He was still going strong at 85 until shortly before his death on August 24, 1967.
Like the rivers he tamed, he was a powerful driving force in America and the world. He brought changes when they were needed most. With his “Find a need and fill it” and “Nothing is impossible” beliefs, he accomplished amazing things. Most of the businesses he started, and the projects he built, are still in place today. Although, like his cement plant, they may no longer carry the Kaiser name, they are forever stamped with his dynamic spirit. The Henry J. Kaiser legacy continues…