Born at Waipahu, Oahu, and initially educated there, Gum Mung Shak (1894-1964) joined Hawaiian Canneries Co. of Kapaa, Kauai, in 1918 as a bookkeeper and six years later was promoted to office manager, a position he held for 34 years until his retirement in 1960.
Incidentally, Gum Mung Shak’s longtime employer, Hawaiian Canneries Co. —one of three Kauai pineapple companies in operation on Kauai during the 1900s — was in business for 49 years, from 1913 to 1962, with its pineapple cannery located where Pono Kai Resort now stands, and with its pineapple fields extending from Kapahi north to Moloaa.
What made Shak unique was that he was one of the very first Orientals ever named to an executive position at a Hawaiian sugar or pineapple plantation.
Moreover, he was brilliant with figures, possessed a keen business sense and never stopped studying— staying up late at night after long days at the office improving himself by taking correspondence courses.
The Shak family home in the then pineapple town of Kapaa was a center of community life. They were one of the first Kapaa families to get electric lighting and own a car as well as a radio, and it seemed as if everybody in town came over to listen to that radio, especially during football games. There was never a dull moment.
Mr. Gum Mung Shak and Mrs. Elsie Fung Lum Shak had five sons and a daughter: Harold, Clarence, Arthur, Lawrence, Allan and Lily.
During World War II, all five of Mr. and Mrs. Shak’s sons served in the U. S. Armed Forces, and one them, Arthur, survived 51 bombing missions over Europe as a B-24 Liberator navigator and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement during aerial flight over enemy territory.
Their sons all became engineers and daughter Lily was a schoolteacher.