Centenarians celebrate 200+ years

They traveled different paths, but on Thursday they met on common ground when Hajime Morita and Anna Sloggett celebrated more than 200 years of life between them.

The North Shore and Poalua Bridge Clubs honored Sloggett at the regularly scheduled meeting at Sun Village while Morita’s celebration took place in the Mahelona Hospital auditorium with family and other long-term care patients.

“She didn’t really want all this fuss,” bridge club director Jane Nearing Go said. “But how many people get to celebrate 100 years of life?”

The club got together for some light refreshments and sang a round of birthday greetings for the centenarian before settling in for some serious bridge.

“It’s all his pills,” Sloggett said good-naturedly as she shook hands with Dr. Peter Kim, a club member who stopped by to wish her well.

Sloggett, who has a scholarship golf tournament in her honor tomorrow and a poi luncheon to celebrate her birthday coming up Sept. 17 at Gaylord’s, said she still gets out on the golf course.

“I still have my driver’s license,” Sloggett said. “When I went to get my last one, the driver’s licensing lady told me, ‘See you on your 101st birthday,’ to which I said, ‘We’ll see.’”

Sloggett, born to Mary and Walter Scott in San Francisco, came to Kaua‘i following The Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

According to a Kaua‘i Museum poster honoring Sloggett as an island living treasure, Sloggett’s family was welcomed to the island by William Hyde Rice, Mary’s father and the last governor of Kaua‘i under Queen Lili‘uokalani.

One of five children born to the Scotts, Sloggett graduated from Kaua‘i High School and taught at Lihu‘e Grammar, Kapa‘a Elementary and Wilcox Elementary School.

Today, Sloggett is a long-time member of the All Saints Church in Kapa‘a and has served as a caregiver at the Wilcox Hospital and as a volunteer at both the Kaua‘i and Grove Farm Homestead museums.

The Kaua‘i Museum honored her for comforting the ill and befriending the isolated.

Over at the Mahelona auditorium, Morita was wrapping up a busy week. Last Wednesday he was one of 40 patients who went to the beach with visiting students from Okinawa Prefectual College of Nursing. Two days later, he sang at the hospital’s bon dance.

Josie Pablo, the hospital’s long-term care activities coordinator, arranged for the Kapa‘a senior citizens to do several odori numbers in tribute of Morita’s 103rd birthday.

Morita was born in on Sept. 7, 1903, in Kapuna, Ko‘olau — today part of the Moloa‘a district of Kaua‘i. He was one of seven children.

“Today he is the only one left,” Pablo said.

During his younger days, Morita was a milk delivery man for the Lihu‘e Plantation, working out of the Nukoli‘i Dairy.

When a tidal wave knocked down the dairy, Morita became one of the plantation’s truck drivers.

Sanae Morita, wife of William, Hajime’s youngest son, said he also was a sumotori, working with the churches and plantation camps and competing in matches between the different camps on the island.

“He also loved baseball,” Sanae said. “I don’t know if he actually played, but he enjoyed the game.”

Several of Morita’s relatives gathered at the Mahelona auditorium to celebrate his 103rd birthday. His family includes six children, one of whom died in infancy.

Sanae said the oldest son, Haruo, 83, lives in California. The youngest, William, 75, lives in Lihu‘e.

Morita has 13 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

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