‘Spunky’ Shies’ celebration

KAPAA — Josie Pablo said Wednesday was the second time this week the residents congregated in the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital auditorium.

“Monday, we celebrated our first May Day,” Pablo said. “Today, we’re celebrating Mrs. Leonora Amaral Schies’ 101st birthday. She is our charter ‘oldest resident’ after moving here from Rabaino’s Care Home in 2010. She is still very spunky. She said, ‘Never mind the song. Cut the cake, already.’”

Eleanor Kennedy, visiting from California for her mother’s birthday, said there is a resident who is more elder than her mother, Mrs. Chieno Matsumoto, who is 103 years old.

“She said the secret to her long life is she prays before each meal,” Kennedy said.

Shies said the secret to her long life is hard work.

Born to Pedro Guzman and Eulalia Rivera on May 4, 1915 in Koloa, Kauai, Shies’ family moved to Lahaina, Maui where she attended Lahainaluna Grammar School, loving to read, write, and talking about the “huge banyan tree on the school grounds.”

Her father passed away when she was 11 years old, moving the family back to Kauai. She was devastated at the loss of her father, and sad at not being able to go back to school because she and her siblings — three brothers, and four sisters — had to go to work.

On Oct. 11, 1929, just five months following her 14th birthday, she married John Amaral and had five children — Gilbert, Charles, Dorothy, Robert, and Eleanor.

“I’m the baby,” Kennedy said. “But I remember my mother making bread in a stone oven out in the yard. She would be preparing the materials for making bread while we got ready for school. She usually made about 25 loaves each time, and gave the bread away to neighbors. But she always made small breads, or blinges, for each of us.”

Kennedy said her mother worked very hard throughout her life.

“During the War, she worked in the laundry at the Mana Military Base,” she said. “She also worked as a book binder for the Garden Island Publishing Co.”

Shies also had hobbies, one being sewing which led her to buy a Singer sewing machine so she could sew clothes for the entire family.

“I remember her boiling the family’s laundry out in the yard,” Kennedy said. “She would do the wash on a scrub board before hanging all the clothes on the line. She worked very hard, sewing, washing, and caring for the animals whenever her husband worked the night shift.”

John passed away in 1959, and Leonora was back at work, this time at the Kauai Inn in the housekeeping department where she met Cleo Shies. They were wed in 1963.

Shies’ family includes two surviving siblings, 16 grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren, and eight great, great grandchildren.

When Cleo Schies passed away, Leonora lived alone until 2007 when she moved into Rabaino’s Care Home.

“Today, Leonora continues to be as active as possible,” said Pablo. “She is out of bed daily and continues to attend the activities here. Grandma is a very spunky lady and keeps the staff on their toes. She knows their names and is very observant about things around her, often making comments.”

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