Recently, I had the privilege to sit down with an Oahu icon.
This person encompasses so many positive attributes that include, military
background, government service, non-profit experience, a founder, an author,
and so much more. This gentleman has collaborated with groups like The
Salk Institute, The American Red Cross, Hawaii Public Radio, Honolulu Police
Department, The March of Dimes, Homeless Veterans in Hawaii Task Force and
State of Hawaii. This icon is John Henry Felix.
John Henry Felix has it all on his resume; however, he has
done so much more. John Henry's passion began when he was 8-years
old. He embraced Albert Schweitzer's quote, "There is no higher
religion than human service, to work for the common good is the highest
creed." Since then, John Henry has put service to others before
Volunteering, said John Henry, is the "center of my
life." He doesn't just talk the talk; he walks the walk. In 1938 he
began assembling care kits for American Red Cross. Through the years he
assisted in rebuilding the Chinese Red Cross after the fall of the "Gang
of 4 and oversaw refugee camps throughout Southeast Asia.
John Henry is a decorated Korean war veteran and has been a
member of the USAF Aux, Civilian Air Patrol for over 50 years. In addition
to his service, he is involved with non-profits, including VFW, American Vets,
Elks Club, and The American Legion.
He has won over 76 awards including Red Cross Henri Dunant
Medal, which is bestowed by the International Red Cross. John Henry was
the first American to receive this prestigious award. He also was the
first person from Hawaii to win the March of Dimes National Lifetime
Achievement Award and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Award as well as the Salk
Institute for Biological Studies Distinguished Service Award.
As an author, John Henry has written 11 books, including
Volunteer Development, A Basic Guide, The Future of Volunteerism: A Marketing
Challenge, and awaiting publication Profiles of Servant Leadership.
Currently, John Henry is the Executive Chairman, COO &
CFO of Hawaii Medical Assurance Association and at the young age of 89 has no
plans of slowing down.
John Henry's advice to those beginning their careers is get
involved, be a servant leader, and service above self. He notes that
technology changes have been excellent and disconcerting. John Henry said,
"We should work at developing relationships, as it is vital in
Hawaii. I still meet with my friends from 80 years ago."
Passion for his community involvement, keeps John Henry
striving to do more. He noted, "There is so much to be done and not
enough time or people to fulfill those needs." For what is next, John
Henry wants to do something "truly meaningful," as there is always a
challenge around the corner.
John Henry Felix's accomplishments are many, and he is
passionate about giving back. Given all that he has done, he is humble and
gives more than he takes. I think he has lived Albert Schweitzer's quote
and has made the world a better place.