By Scott Osborn ’94
The description for the Old School Award dictates that the nominee “must be an individual who exemplifies the spirit of Punahou through outstanding service to the school,” and 2015 recipient Mary E. Friel ’51 Ciacci fits that description through and through.
Ciacci comes from a long line of Punahou alumni. Her grandfather attended Punahou from 1881 – 1883 and her mother, Wilhelmina Robinson, graduated with the Class of 1928. The tradition continued with her sons, Lane “Bobo” ’72, Michael ’73 and Daniel ’75.
She first attended Punahou in 1937, not long before classes had to move off campus due to World War II. “In those days we saved our dimes to buy stamps for our books to buy war bonds, $18.75 for a $25 bond.”
Ciacci has been a fixture at the School for many years, first working in the Business and Athletic offices and later as a volunteer. She co-chaired her Class Reunions, wrote class notes as a Bulletin correspondent, sang in the Alumni Glee Club, served as a board member with the Punahou Alumni Association and Na Wahine Pa‘ani O Punahou, flipped hamburgers at Carnival, volunteered at the PAA Golf Tournament and collected tickets at Alumni Lu‘au.
While some might balk at the idea of volunteering for so many activities, Ciacci revels in it. “I do it because I love the people. Seeing old friends and making new ones is such a pleasure for me,” she says.
Her willingness to serve is infectious, and she has always had the ability to corral her classmates into joining her at these events.
Volunteerism is clearly a way of life for Ciacci and is not limited to Punahou. In 2014, Ciacci was awarded a 45-Year Pin by the Little League International Congress Conference in Minneapolis for her work as a Little League Baseball administrator.
“At the first Little League game I attended, the scorekeeper didn’t show up so I volunteered to keep score,” recalls Ciacci, “and that’s how I started.”
Ciacci still volunteers for Little League Baseball, and for those who attended the Punahou Alumni Lu‘au this year there is a good chance that Aunty Mary and her classmates were there collecting tickets at the front of the line.