A Fond Farewell to Columnist Valerie Hotz
By ELANA O’LOSKEY
Staff WriterWhen Valerie Hotz agreed to write Business Buzz in The Orinda News, little did she know her tenure would last over a decade. This month will be her last column. Through the years she became used to people stopping her in the street to tell her they read her column “first thing.” They said it was important to them to support local business. While “Putting a Personal Face on Local Business” is her tagline, it has also been her heartfelt commitment. She’s always found business leaders to have interesting backgrounds and especially enjoys featuring home-based Internet businesses. Born in Berkeley, a Cal grad with a degree in Rhetoric, Hotz has been part of the community in this area for over half of her life. But part of her childhood was spent in Great Britain. Her father was a physicist and exchange scientist with the U.S. Navy. Her mother was a founding board member of the National Organization for Rare Diseases, NORD. Her mother also worked with the Cystinosis Foundation, a nonprofit supporting patients and families living with this ultra-rare disease. Cystinosis is a metabolic disease which affects every cell in the body. Where once children born with the disease only survived to age nine, because of the foundation’s efforts as advocates for obtaining treatment, treatment is now in place. Patients with cystinosis now live into their 40s and 50s. Hotz has a twofold reason for ending her work on the column. One, she and her husband, Tom Brown, are planning to relocate to the Lake Tahoe region where they have spent a lot of time. They enjoy “metric century” sponsored bike rides with friends and the High Sierras in general. The other reason is to spend time pursuing a variety of writing projects. Black and white photography is another of her interests, as is swimming. In July, they will revisit Great Britain, where she spent time in her childhood. Hotz is looking forward to taking photos at Stonehenge and visiting the Morgan Motor Company, which still builds cars by hand. “I will always have my heart in Orinda,” says Hotz. “My three children went to Del Rey. Jessica is finishing up her Ph.D. at Rutgers in political science with a focus on women in politics. Caitlin is a licensed clinical social worker serving a homeless veteran population in Chicago. Jack will soon graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business from Chico State. His passion is renewable, sustainable energy, especially in the wind industry.” The legacy Hotz leaves from her years of writing Business Buzz looms large. She remains impressed by residents’ commitment to shop local whenever possible. Many of her loyal readers cut out her column and save it for when they need the information, which she counts as one reason to continue printing an actual newspaper. “Over the years I’ve seen how local businesses support the schools, the arts and just about anything that helps to make Orinda a thriving community. In turn, the community supports them. It’s been great to write about that synergy,” says Hotz. Everyone at The Orinda News wishes Valerie all the best with her newly found free time and offers a big round of applause for all the years spent making Business Buzz such a pleasure to read.