Doris Tilden with former director Stephen Little in 2008

On May 1, 2019—at 101 years young—Doris Tilden died peacefully in her sleep.

Doris volunteered at the museum for nearly 20 years in many departments, including the Visitor Information Center, the Library, Development, Public Relations and the Café. In 2003 the museum honored Doris as Volunteer of the Year at the National Philanthropy Day award ceremony. She retired in 2008.

Standing just 4’8″ tall, she was a source of boundless energy—never without a smile, always ready to lend a hand. Greatly respected for her candor, Doris never shied away from speaking her mind. If she disagreed with a decision, however, she always presented a worthy alternative.

“We learned a lot from Doris,” says Beryl Caderas, retired VIC manager. “She taught us patience, writing skills, keeping a positive attitude, pride in your work and problem solving!”

After she retired, Doris started going to Makapu’u with her son, Tim, who was shooting photos of the hang gliders soaring over Sea Life Park. She became an avid spectator, and her many conversations with hang gliders formed the basis of her first book, Hang Gliding in Hawaii, a comprehensive history of the sport’s arrival and rise to popularity in the islands.

At age 92, Doris underwent a successful open heart surgery. Her insatiable curiosity in the face of such a daunting procedure led her to ask endless questions, requiring her doctors to explain everything in exhaustive detail. Doris compiled her copious notes and reflections on the experience into a memoir, A Saga of Open Heart Surgery, co-authored with Tim.

Doris loved the museum and meeting and greeting visitors from around the world, she became a tutu to everyone. She lived every one of her 101 years to the very fullest, and we are so grateful for her time at HoMA.