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 himself.
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.