Born and educated in England, Frank S. Pugh (1886-1949) arrived on Kauai in 1921 to become the industrial supervisor of Kauai schools, and in 1923 was appointed principal of Kalaheo School, where he was largely responsible for the construction of a manual training shop in that same year.
That training shop grew to become the Kalaheo Vocational School — Kauai’s first vocational school — of which Pugh was principal from 1929 until his retirement in 1948.
The school was comprised of four shops: auto mechanics, carpentry, welding and machine work, in which hundreds of boys were trained over the years to fill various trade positions in island industries.
In machine shop, for instance, instruction was given in millwright work, engine operation and repair, pipefitting, forging, welding, machine shop practice and the use of machine and hand tools, as well as mathematics and English in the afternoons.
Under Pugh’s guidance, the boys actually built the machine shop and much of the equipment in all the shops, while the versatility of their skills ranged, for example, from being able to turn out a tiny punch to overhauling a huge 14-ton tractor.
During World War II, the boys served their country by repairing Army tractors, working on Army hospital roofs, and doing carpentry and plumbing work for the Army — much of which was done for free, with the Army supplying the materials.
Kalaheo Vocational School was renamed Kauai Vocational School in 1945, was removed to the Kauai High School campus in 1952 and was renamed Kauai Technical School in 1955; in 1966 it became Kauai Community College at Kauai High School.
Pugh also organized the first troops of Boy Scouts and Sea Scouts on Kauai, designed and supervised the construction of many of Kauai’s public buildings, received the first surveyor license to be issued in the Hawaiian Islands, and drew the first tourist map of Kauai for the Hawaii Tourist Bureau, the forerunner of the Hawaii Visitor’s Bureau.
Frank S. Pugh and his wife, Emma, had two children: Patricia and Mitchell.