Living Treasure turns 100

PRINCEVILLE — Masao Tamura still volunteers with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.

“He comes with his daughter Winnie when she teaches tai chi,” said Grace Delos Reyes of the Agency on Elderly Affairs. “He doesn’t come all the time, but when he is able to, he’s there with Winnie.”

This was the case on Saturday when Masao sat quietly as he watched Winnie lead the seated tai chi demonstration during “Diabetes 101: A Healthier You,” hosted by the Wilcox Health.

Tamura was honored with a luncheon celebrating his 100th birthday Thursday by a small group of family and close friends at the Emmalani Court poolside party room.

“This is not as big as last year when we celebrated hakuju, or the Japanese tradition of 99 years,” Winnie said. “Today, not everybody could make it.”

Tamura sat quietly as guests wished him a happy birthday; his only response being a smile and quiet nod.

“He was born on Kauai,” said his brother, Alan Yoshio Tamura, of Honolulu, who came to visit Masao for his birthday. “I don’t remember the name of the valley, but it was near Moloaa. They used to grow rice there.”

Masao was the second child born to Usaburo and Tsugiyo Tamura who had nine children — eight boys and a girl.

The family grew up in Kilauea after moving away following a flood that devastated the rice crops.

“We had an uncle who worked for the plantation,” Alan said. “We could move to Kilauea where we lived in a valley that still has the tunnels from the war.”

On Dec. 9, 2016, Masao, at 99 years old, was awarded one of two Living Treasure awards by the county’s Agency on Elderly Affairs, RSVP.

“We have several RSVP volunteers who are in their 90s and continue to serve,” said Donna Olivas, RSVP director. “Masao, at 99 years old, is one of the oldest volunteers we have.”

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