Biographical entry: Blum, Alvin J. (1912 - 1993)

June 1993


Alvin J. Blum was born in New Jersey in the United States in 1912. He spent ten years in the southern United States as a commercial traveller, and when the Second World War broke out he joined the American Army Corps and served four years in the Pacific, including on Guadalcanal, in a non-combat medical position, rising to the rank of sergeant. After the war he married Gertrude Gewartz of New York and returned to Little Rock, Arkansas, where their daughter Keithie was born. The family then moved to New Zealand, and in 1953 made a tour of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India, Pakistan and Israel where they were interested in religions, chiefly the Bahá'í Faith (q.v.). The family arrived in the Solomon Islands in March 1954, where Alvin Blum spent his first three months as acting Manager of the Mendana Hotel. Next he set up a taxi service and began a general store and bakery in Honiara. The couple traded as A. J. and G. Blum and Co. Other ventures followed: a dry-cleaning business, a peanut oil mill, production of ice-blocks and aerated waters, a fish and chips business, and in 1959 a general store, bakery and movie cinema in Auki, Malaita. Not all of these ventures succeeded, but the Blum's Hometel (q.v.) endured. The small resthouse was built in 1964 on the site of the present-day King Solomon Hotel on Hibiscus Avenue, and became Honiara's third hotel. Individual bathrooms were added in 1966 and the accommodation wing was extended in 1968. These rooms are now the shopping arcade of the King Solomon.

The Blums' main concern was always the Bahá'í Faith in which they were pioneers and international figures. Alvin Blum was also an active member of the Town Council from its inception in 1958 until August 1967. He was a leading member of the Chamber of Commerce and its president for several years in the 1960s. The Blums were overseas for several months in late 1967, during which trip they visited Bahá'í centres around the Pacific. In their absence their businesses was run by Owen Battrick, another Bahá'í. Alvin Blum was survived by his wife and his daughter Keithie, who married Bruce Saunders and was living in the Cook Islands at the time of her father's death in 1968. She returned to Honiara to take over her parents' business, and with her husband expanded into tourism and international trade. In 1970, Gertrude Blum left to spread the Bahá'í Faith in New Zealand for two or three years. Blum's Hometel and its Hibiscus Room restaurant were sold in 1976 to Hibiscus Hotels Ltd. Gertrude Blum remained in Honiara until her death in June 1993, and was awarded an M.B.E. for her community services and her dedication to the Bahá'í Faith. (NS 7 Apr. 1966, 21 Sept. 1967, 15 Apr. 1968, 30 Sept. 1968, 30 Sept. 1970, 30 June 1976; Alan Lindley, personal communication, Adelaide, 30 June 2011)

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Published resources


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details