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Haruno ‘Toni’ Souza turned 100 Tuesday

LIHU‘E — Do you know who the President of the United States was on April 20, 1921, ‘Ohana Pacific Kaua‘i Adult Day Health Center director Kaulana Finn wanted to know, Tuesday morning.

Silence.

Less than two months following the inauguration of the 29th President of the United States Warren Gamaliel Harding was sworn into office, Haruno “Toni” Souza was born at Makaweli Camp 4 on the west side of Kaua‘i, states an ‘Ohana Pacific release from the Kaua‘i Adult Day Health Center on Kress Street near Hamura’s Saimin.

In the environment of the COVID-19 where only half of the Kaua‘i Adult Day Health Center population is able to attend, no family members, and a brief 15 to 20-minute window to celebrate, Haruno “Toni” Souza marked her 100th birthday, Tuesday with special greetings from government leaders, a special video greeting from Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami who proclaimed April 20 as “Haruno ‘Toni’ Souza Day,” and lots of photos to share with family.

Haruno was born the fifth child in a family of 14, and grew up to first marry Tadao Matsuda, and then marrying Edward Souza. She has three children, four stepsons, and is a proud grandma of 11 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren, and one great-great grandson.

Throughout her lifetime, Souza has witnessed Hawai‘i becoming the 50th state in the Union, the first-ever broadcast on television, the first man in space, and the first African American President Barack Obama’s election to office. She worked at several jobs, including laundering clothing for those working in the plantation cane fields, at the Tip Top restaurant, and eventually retiring from the Wilcox Hospital.

“I was a practical nurse back then,” she said. “You didn’t need to go to formal schooling or have a license. I was also an interpreter, and the ward’s cheerleader.”

Following her retirement from Wilcox Hospital, Souza volunteered with the county’s Agency on Elderly Affairs at the Lihu‘e Civic Center by providing directions to residents and visitors alike.

During her free time, Souza enjoys reading, doing word search at which she is a whiz, doing a book a week, Finn said. She also knits, crochets, dances and singing songs with friends at the Kaua‘i Adult Day Health Center.

“I want to sing with my friends,” Souza said, breaking into the familiar birthday anthem. “I come because I have friends here. We talk story, and there are fun things to do. I like the activities.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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