Maui Economic Opportunity’s first executive director, Elizabeth Ann Jones “Jonesie” Medeiros died on November 6 at the age of 96, the non-profit organization and Medeiros’ family said.
Born September 17, 1924 in Berryville, Virginia to Thomas and Maria (Shugart) Jones, she came to Lanai in 1946 after graduating from Longwood College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education to complete the 6th grade at the Lanai Elementary and High School, according to her family.
She then worked at Hawaiian Pineapple Co. on Lanai from 1947 to 1951, where she met her former husband, Joseph Soares Medeiros Jr.
After moving to Maui, she worked at Bishop Bank and as a first and second grade teacher at Ulupalakua School. After a leave of absence due to the birth of her only daughter, Rose Marie, she returned to teach grades 3 and 4 at Kealahou and Kula Schools from 1954 to 1965.
She took a leave of absence from the Hawaii Department of Education to assume the position of Staff Director of MEO.
Medeiros laid the groundwork for the nonprofit Community Action Program, initially serving as the administrator for what would become MEO, according to the nonprofit.
Under her leadership, MEO was founded on March 22, 1965 as a non-profit Community Action Agency.
Along with starting the Grass Roots Project, Medeiros led the nonprofit’s Medicare program, introduced tutoring programs in Maui County, and founded the Head Start program, which serves low-income children between the ages of 3 and 5 at no cost to the families. After launching Head Start — which now serves 200 children at centers on Maui and Molokai — Medeiros left MEO after a year.
Back in education, Medeiros taught at the Lihikai School and began training to become a DOE administrator. Her administrative career took her back to Kula and Lihikai Elementary Schools in positions of Assistant Principal and Principal to Maunaloa Elementary School on Molokai. Elizabeth spent the latter part of her education career in the DOE’s Maui District Office, where she served as the Education Officer for Special Education, Special Services and Title I.
Medeiros was a member of Kahului Union Church and later Pookela Church, and also attended Waipuna Chapel in her final years.
She was deceased of all her siblings – three half brothers and two younger sisters and one brother.
She is survived by her daughter Rose Marie Medeiros; four grandchildren – Leilani Carvalho, Joseph Labuanan Jr., Kawika (Theresa Jones) Labuanan, Keone (Alysia Durand) Labuanan; and five great-grandchildren – Ashley Medeiros-Carvalho, Demi Lynn Carvalho. Josiah Labuanan, Mahealani Liu and Rocklyn Jones.
Public viewings and services will be held at the Ballard family mortuary at 440 Ala Makani St. in Kahului on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.