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Diane Pure: Pure enthusiasm, all for the community

By Staff | Nov 12, 2009


Knowing Diane Pure, a writer is reminded of advertising slogans.

First, she’s like Ivory soap, “99.44 percent pure.” Pure enthusiasm, Pure community commitment. Second, she is like the “Energizer Bunny” — going and going, giving and giving.

How Pure, born 40 miles from Boston, wound up on Maui isn’t too much different from the experience of many newcomers. Unlike some who buy homes here but mostly take up space and live like they did back home, Diane rates an A-plus and has never come near a failing grade.

Diane reported that coming to Maui for the first time, “we felt like country bumpkins.”

“We walked through the Hyatt (lobby), looked up to the ceiling and found out there was none. We had been fighting foul weather all our lives. (Husband) Bob reportedly said, “We are going to make a pact. We are going to come here every year.”

In 2000, the Pures received an offer they could not refuse from a French company bent on expansion. They sold their flourishing three-location Seattle Well Made Bed accessory stores, and when no new opportunity opened up, “We said to ourselves, ‘Let’s do it,’ ” Diane explained.

“We just decided we had had one cloudburst and rainstorm too many.” Pulling up stakes, they purchased a two-bedroom condo in Kaanapali for a permanent residence.

Daughter of a military careerist, Diane lived in 15 different towns growing up, spending two years in Germany in high school. She starred in college at the University of Connecticut, securing a business degree as one of only 25 women in a class of 1,200 men.

She met and married Bob when both held managerial jobs at the upscale Filenes carriage trade store in Boston. When kids came along, she decided to stay home, because she wanted to give them the stability she lacked growing up.

Bob became a crackerjack purchasing/merchandising executive working for Gimbels in New York and Philadelphia while stationed in New Jersey.

Along the way, there was always community involvement, second nature to Diane. Military families who move a lot have a tradition of volunteering to quickly make friends in new communities, she said. She found herself becoming president of almost every organization she joined.

On Maui, she linked up with Pat and Richard Endsley’s highly praised tutoring program for Lahaina Complex students of all ages. From there, it was a short step to launching two unique special projects.

These days, the ability of seniors to win scholarships or financial aid is critical to their going to college. This fall, for the second year, Diane is helping 35 Lahainaluna students win the coveted prizes.

Students are taught to write good personal statements essential to getting grants, and they are prepped for scholarship interviews so they can wow decision-makers. Putting to work her personnel skills as an experienced interviewer and judge of people, she interviews each student for 30 minutes and spends another hour with them reviewing first drafts.

At least 15 hours a month go into the effort. The payoff: her charges won $188,000 in scholarships and financial aid last year.

Diane’s latest initiative was creating and organizing  “Opportunity Rocks,” a year in planning. Pure discovered that most eighth-graders do not have a clue about what is involved in preparing for careers and what opportunities there are in the island’s biggest industry: tourism.

Pure lined up five hotels — Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Royal Lahaina, Westin, and the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua — to put on morning-long programs on career opportunities for 250 eighth-graders at Lahaina Intermediate School.

She also recruited 50 chaperones from all walks of life to accompany them. The giant coordinating and organizing job went off like clockwork — buses filled, hotel staff members prepared, chaperones briefed, lunches arranged and an essay contest set up requiring each student to write a report on what they learned.

Not to be outdone, husband Bob, retired like Diane, has his own involvements, working with Lahaina Bypass Now and the state Department of Transportation to alleviate traffic problems, serving on the county Board of Ethics and helping West Maui Taxpayers Association as vice president.

Capturing the essence of the Pures, both Diane and especially Bob, much has been left out. Diane soldiers on, sold on the value of contributing to the community. From personal experience, it is so simple in this small place not only to become involved, but to truly become a part of the community, even to make new friends if you have never volunteered before. Just ask Diane. (In fact, write Diane at dpure@hawaii.rr.com or call her — she’s in the phone book.) She will be more than willing to suggest how you can get started.