Our Islands, Our Future

Maui journalist and community volunteer Emily O’Neil Bott recently celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends. Recalling Bott’s many contributions to island life, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino proclaimed April 2, 2022, as Emily Bott Day. “Emily’s life demonstrates that good citizens are the riches of a community,” Victorino said. “Today, she is adding yet another hat to the collection worn over the course of her life, that of a centenarian.”

Bott’s column in the Haleakala Times was entitled Silver Streak. In 2012, at age 90, she published a book, Silver Streak Revisited, in which she recounts the adventures and misadventures of her life on Maui and her earlier years on the mainland. A fan of Bott’s said, “She is one of Maui’s treasures. Anyone who reads Emily is richer for it.” Author Tom Stevens says the book is all “wit, warmth and wisdom.” Fellow writer Paul Wood added that Bott has produced “the career retrospective of a born humorist. Her voice has always been wry, authentic, and sane.”

Bott’s most memorable community service is her 30 years and 5,000 hours of volunteering in the Emergency Room (ER) at Maui Memorial Medical Center. “Comforting children and adults with my puppet, Lamb Chop, was memorable for countless Mauians,” Bott recalls. “I remember the many hands I held as an ER volunteer, all the ripped up, blown out, agonized, bleeding human beings I have registered, iced, and comforted. It was meaningful work and I would do it all over again!”

Bott also dedicated 20 years to Make-a-Wish Hawaii, ultimately earning their Lifetime Achievement Award. Thanks to her unwavering support, numerous Maui families with a seriously ill child have been uplifted by the power of a wish. “There are numerous Maui keiki battling life-threatening medical conditions,” Emily explained. “Volunteering for Make-A-Wish Hawaii is a great way to give back to the community. It is so rewarding to bring joy to a family in need. It fulfills a dream for a youngster who does not have much control over his current situation. When you give, you receive much love in return.” Bott’s Secret: “Keep Giving!”

Maui Economic Development Board wishes Emily a happy 100th birthday. Thanks, Emily, for your dedicated years of community service!

Leslie Wilkins, President and CEO, MEDB