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National Tourism Foundation’s Gee-Hawaii Scholarship Fund Surpasses Endowment by More Than $22,000

National Tourism Foundation’s Gee-Hawaii Scholarship Fund Surpasses Endowment by More Than $22,000 First Ever Award to be Given in 2004 LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 7, 2004) -- The National Tourism Foundation is pleased to announce that the first Chuck Gee-Hawaii Scholarship will be awarded in the amount of $1,500 later this year thanks to the generosity of Chuck Gee’s family and friends. Gee, dean emeritus at Hawaii’s School of Travel Industry Management (TIM) celebrated his 70th birthday in August, but his gifts came to the Foundation in the form of donations totaling more than $24,000. As a Chinese-American, Gee knew his 70th birthday would be especially significant. It marked the beginning of his seventy-first year – a time of major celebration for men in the Chinese culture. As the date approached, a group of friends and graduates came to Gee with the idea of giving a party in his honor. He immediately and graciously declined because of the amount of work involved. “Then I remembered the scholarship,” said Gee, “and I also remembered that no award had ever been made.” The Chuck Gee-Hawaii scholarship fund was named in 2000 to honor Gee following his retirement. Since its inception it had grown considerably, but it was still $2,000 below the necessary endowment amount. “I decided to consent to the birthday party only if it was kind of a voluntary fundraiser,” said Gee. “I requested no personal gifts, but advised guests that they could make a tax-deductible donation to the scholarship.” Family, friends and industry associates around the world were invited to celebrate the beginning of Gee’s “lucky 8” decade. Guests traveled from Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan to be part of the festivities. A representative from the Chinese government flew in to express best wishes, and the governor of Hawaii and the mayor of Honolulu each issued a proclamation declaring August 28 “Chuck Yim Gee Day.” The festivities blended elements from Gee’s Chinese heritage and his American upbringing with the Hawaiian culture. A dim sum reception was held on the beach. Then the guests were led inside for entertainment and dinner. A highlight was the Broadway-style production, a musical retrospective that depicted each decade of Gee’s life through popular songs of the time. The production traced his humble beginnings in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the Great Depression, his service in the Korean War, his early career in housing and food service and his distinguished tenure at the University of Hawaii where he served as the Dean of the School of Travel Industry Management for 23 years. To date, nearly 100 donations have been made to the fund in honor of his birthday. “The Foundation is thrilled that the Gee-Hawaii Scholarship will award this year,” said Executive Director Randy Fiveash. “We want to congratulate Chuck Gee on reaching this personal milestone and commend him for his initiative and generosity. It is our hope that his creative fundraising efforts will set an example for others who want to build scholarship funds.” “I hope to keep the scholarship fund healthy so future generations of students interested in the hospitality/tourism management field can benefit from its availability,” said Gee. His dedication, along with the funds collected on his behalf, will ensure that the Chuck- Gee Hawaii Scholarship is awarded regularly for many years to come. The National Tourism Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports research and education in travel and tourism. Since 1982, the National Tourism Foundation has awarded more than $1.5 million to travel and tourism students in the form of grants, scholarships and awards. For more information, contact the Foundation at 800-682-8886 or visit www.ntfonline.org.