Citizen of the Year 2016: Tom O'Neill
Tiburon Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen-of-the-Year, Tom O’Neill, says that over time, one develops a desire to give back some of the benefits that a wonderful community like ours provides for its residents. Tom is being honored for the many outstanding ways he has found to give back to our community.
A Minnesota native, Tom moved to Tiburon in 1968, and has been volunteering in the community ever since - in big ways, such as organizing events which bring thousands of people to Tiburon and its businesses, and in quiet ways, such helping an elderly neighbor with an undergrounding project.
Tom’s first high profile community service project was to co-chair the Opening Celebration of Shoreline Park after the renovation of Paradise Drive. A few years later, in 2001, Tom, a classic car owner, enticed four other vintage car owners to show their cars on Main Street. From this humble beginning, the Tiburon Classic Car Show was born. It is now an annual event bringing thousands to Tiburon to enjoy over 100 classic cars in a classic Tiburon waterfront setting.
Not one to rest on his laurels, during a trip to Ireland in 2011, Tom learned his great uncle was credited by the Irish government with having saved Irish music from extinction. In honor of his great uncle, Tom organized the two day Tiburon Irish Music Festival, which celebrates traditional Irish music and draws participants from all over the world. The third annual festival will be held next February.
In addition, Tom serves on a number of community boards, notably the Tiburon Fire Protection District and the Tiburon Peninsula Foundation. Tom serves on the Trestle Trail committee, which is working to design and build a trial at Blackie’s Pasture leading to the 130-year-old trestle timbers. The Trestle Trial will celebrate and inform about Tiburon’s railroad past. Tom also finds time to volunteer at the Marin fire tower lookout on Mount Tamalpais, during the dry summer months.
Though he says he always thought awards were for other people, this year, Tom, the award is for you, with thanks for all you do for our community.