Bob and Doris '52 Pulley Diner

Pulley Diner LogoLooking back, Bob Pulley ’52 still cannot help but feel a little awkward when he recounts the story of how he came to meet and eventually ask out his bride of now 58 years. It is the classic story of a sophomore boy looking out across the library and encountering the most beautiful woman he has seen. He vows right there that he will find out her name and ask her out. Except there was one little catch. “I had braces at the time,” Pulley recalls. “And I was not going to ask her out until they were off.”

Pulley was true to his word. Once the braces came out, he and Doris Stanfill Pulley ’52 were destined to become a Miami Merger, just like Pulley’s father and mother, Verlin ’25 and Corola Pulley ’25. He serenaded and pinned Doris on the steps of Bishop Hall with his Phi Delt brothers, and the couple was married just six days after their Miami graduation. It was a relationship cemented over a lot of burgers and shakes, making it quite appropriate that the couple, who has resided in Hawaii since 1962, has chosen to honor its Miami roots by making a $1 million gift to name The Bob ’52 and Doris ’52 Pulley Diner within the Armstrong Student Center. The laid-back, 24/7 venue, where students will be able to grab a bite to eat or gather with friends, is expected to be a mainstay of campus life for generations of Miamians. “Miami meant so much to Doris and me,” Bob said. “We met there, fell in love there, and got married there. We loved the school and the friends we made there. It just felt right to give something back.”

Even as the Pulleys were patiently waiting for that first date, far-off events were already conspiring to alter the direction their lives would take. The Korean War broke out while they were sophomores, and Bob took the proactive step of volunteering for flight training in the U.S. Navy before he could be drafted. The war ended before his training concluded, but he was assigned to one of only two squadrons in the U.S. with special training to deliver a smaller version of the A-bomb via a loft-bombing tactic. It was training Bob fortunately never had to use, but as part of that training, he was introduced to Hawaii.

“The ocean temperature was perfect, and I just loved the weather and the skies,” said Bob. “I seriously considered moving there and starting a career.”  In 1962, just three years after Hawaii became the 50th state, Bob and Doris did just that. They moved six time zones away, and in doing so, discovered a world of opportunity. While selling carpet and furnishings for one of Hawaii’s original ‘Big Five’ companies, Bob forged a relationship with a developer and fellow Navy man who needed some help. They partnered for the next decade, developing three luxury high-rise condos in Waikiki.

Pulley Diner ChairsFrom there, he found a new partner and went about bringing the Burger King franchise to Hawaii. They would develop 30 Burger Kings throughout the Hawaiian islands before selling out to a Japanese company in 1986. They returned to developing for another 10 years, this time in the mainland, before again timing the market well and retiring. Through it all, Bob had a very valuable friend and partner.

“Doris taught for several years and was also invaluable as we were developing condos. She’d work with the utility companies that designed gas appliances, and got them to help with designs that worked with our spaces. She made those apartments sing,” Bob said. “She was also the one who convinced me to sell Burger King as the deli shops were beginning to emerge. Miami just gives you good American values – ethics, honor, character. That’s what I took away from there,” said Bob. “It was just a wonderful all-around environment to spend four years of your young life, and we’ve never forgotten that.”

Doris still resides in Hawaii and Bob passed away early in 2011.