Yukio Okutsu veterans home in Hilo celebrates 101st birthdays of two residents
When Yachiyo (Janet) Hamada and Jeanette Rhamsey were born in March 1922, Warren Harding was president, Wallace Farrington was governor of the Territory of Hawai‘i and Babe Ruth had already signed a three-year contract with the New York Yankees at $52,000 a year. Later that month, the U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier, USS Langley, was commissioned and the first airplane landed at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
These two special ladies marked their 101st birthdays last month, Hamada on March 11 and Rhamsey on March 19. Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo on the Big Island, where they both now live, celebrated the milestone March 30 with a gathering of residents, families, staff and friends of the community.
The celebration featured a special hula performance by the Hula Sisters and ended with singing “Happy Birthday” and a cake donated by members of the VFW Auxiliary Post 3830. The ladies received lei, lei haku and birthday wear from members of the Daughters of the America Revolution and the VFW Auxiliary of Pāhoa.
Hamada and Rhamsey also were each presented with certificates by Hawai‘i County Mayor Mitch Roth, wishing them a happy birthday.
“Jeanette continues to inspire and bring joy to her community through her stories and her spunk,” Roth’s certificate to Rhamsey says, adding that she earned her Silver Wings in the Women ‘s Airforce Service Pilots Program flying military aircraft in noncombat roles during World War II and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010. “Jeanette has travelled the world as a military wife and mother, followed a career in social work, spent time in India in spiritual study and is a beloved member of our Hawai‘i Island community.
Roth said Hamada also continues to inspire and bring joy to the Big Island community.
“As a long-time member of Hilo Hongwanji Mission Fujinkai, along with her over 30 years of outstanding service at Ben Franklin, Janet exemplifies a life of faith and service for her family and many friends,” the mayor’s certificate says. “Janet continues to live by her words of wisdom: Take good care of yourself so you can be of help to others, exercise and stay healthy, be thankful and happy and Live an honest life.”
The mayor on behalf of himself and the entire county wished both women many more years of health, happiness and prosperity.