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Adele Rugg: Person of the Year

Her love of Maui and its people, her multihued character, and generous and compassionate nature make this volunteer extraordinaire Maui Weekly’s pick for the publication’s highest honor.

December 29, 2011
Sarah Ruppenthal , The Maui Weekly

To say that Adele Rugg has a "colorful" personality would certainly be an understatement. As the reigning queen of the Red Hat Mama's of Maui (a chapter of the International Red Hat Society) and a "Pink Paddler" for the Reach for Recovery Program for Breast Cancer Survivors, Adele is as colorful as the clothes (and accessories) she wears. Her multihued character, combined with a generous and compassionate nature, is why the Maui Weekly has chosen Adele Rugg as its 2011 "Person of the Year."

Adele is no stranger to (as she is well-deserving of) this type of accolade. In 2008, Adele received the Outstanding Volunteer Recognition Award for the County of Maui, as well as the Governor's Volunteer Recognition Award. Last year, the Maui County Committee on the Status of Women selected her as a woman who has made a difference for others in Maui County in the past 30 years. And in June, she was honored as one of two Outstanding Older Americans for Maui County for her extensive volunteer activities and invaluable assistance to a variety of local organizations.

According to friend and colleague Patricia Ross, "Adele has given so much of herself and her time to so many people and organizations for the love of Maui and the people of Maui." By all accounts, Adele is a spirited, selfless individual who--without even really trying, it seems--inspires others. "She provides fun and companionship for women over 50 years of age," said Ross, "encouraging them to attend benefits for the Heart Association, Women Helping Women, Maui Adult Day Care, play productions and many other functions."

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Adele Rugg’s colorful personality, combined with her generous and compassionate nature, is why the Maui Weekly has selected her as the 2011 “Person of the Year.”

And while she may be one of Maui's "Outstanding Older Americans," Adele is unquestionably young at heart--evident not only by her tireless volunteerism, but also by her daily activities. You can find her out on the water, paddling for the Kihei Canoe Club as a member of "Halau Maui Nui O Kama." "She introduces visitors to the Hawaiian culture of paddling, observing the sea life and emphasizing the need for us all to protect the serenity and beauty of Maui," said Ross.

Adele also volunteers for the Reach for Recovery Program for Breast Cancer Survivors as a "Pink Paddler," and was a member of the team that paddled around the island of Lana'i to raise funds for the Pacific Cancer Foundation. Health is of primary concern to Adele, who has served on the Board of Directors for the Maui Nurses Foundation for several years, raising scholarship funds for nursing students at the University of Hawai'i Maui College (UHMC), and assisting nurses at Maui Memorial Medical Center in receiving advanced training in their specialized fields.

True to her youthful spirit, Adele is an ardent supporter of the UHMC Culinary Academy, serving as the newly appointed director of the Maui chapter of the Chaine des Rotisseurs culinary group (of which she describes herself as "The Chick in Charge") and recently marched in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with the Hawai'i All-State Marching Band. Of the more than 400 high school band members, Adele was the only "graduate" among them--a distinction that friends say she is exceedingly proud of.

As if her dance card were not filled to the brim already, she also serves as district lieutenant governor for Kiwanis International (which includes all Kiwanis Clubs in Hawai'i), the first state coordinator of the Annual Delaware Day Celebration (for visitors and past residents of the "First State" of Delaware), State Policy Advisory Board for Elder Affairs (PABEA) board member and the Maui County representative for the Alzheimer's Association Aloha Chapter.

You may be asking yourself: where does she find the energy? Ross said Adele, who has been retired for several years now, considers her new career to be a "Professional Volunteer," and has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

But according to Ross (who submitted the nomination for this award), Adele's greatest contribution was a swift call to action on her behalf.

"I was facing serious health problems and my Mainland family needed to return home," she said. "This angel [Adele] arrived at my door and has been caring for me over the past two years, helping me shop, drive to medical appointments and attend functions."

In a testament to the priceless gift of friendship, Ross explained, "Adele has added so much to the quality of my life as a companion, fellow traveler and dear friend she inspires me to follow my oncologist's advice: 'keep praying, keep playing and keep cruising.' It works for both of us."



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