When it comes to nicknames, “The Commish” was an appropriate one for Tom Rohr ’57. The Hawaii real estate developer was given the moniker for his ability to orchestrate and manage star-studded golf tournaments.
He lived up to the name.
Rohr’s vision is widely credited with raising the bar in Hawaii’s leisure hospitality industry. He imagined, developed and promoted a golf lifestyle that has become commonplace throughout the U.S. Rohr arrived in Hawaii in 1960. By 1974 he was working as president and CEO of Maui’s Kapalua Land Company. Even now, Rohr says Kapalua was his masterpiece. “We took a pineapple field and turned it into a beautiful resort,” he says.
With the help of his friend Arnold Palmer, Rohr brought professional golf to Kapalua. Palmer and Rohr launched a pro-am tournament called “The Golf Party” at Kapalua. It was so successful, it set the stage for other tournaments to follow.
While Kapalua was Rohr’s most recognized work, it wasn’t his last. Rohr spent 22 years as president and CEO of Waikoloa Land Company on Hawaii’s Big Island. He built the resort on insight he picked up during his time as a surfer and beachcomber. But developing a long-range project like Waikoloa took a leader with instinct, business know-how and persistence.
Those qualities Rohr inherited from his parents. “Dad was a courageous entrepreneur,” Rohr said. “He was always building something that he enjoyed. When I had a chance, I tried a lot of things I had never done before. You only know about the winners.”
Throughout his career, Rohr has stayed true to the values Gilmour instilled in him, such as honesty and diligence. He cherishes the friendships he made there and will never forget winning the senior extemporaneous speech contest.
After a fortunate career, Rohr enjoys unwinding with his family, including his wife, Robin; daughter, Nina; her husband, Lance; and their spectacular 12-year-old grandson, Nicholas.
At 80, he says, “I just enjoy staying as fit as possible, enjoying life and breathing.”