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Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Social work pioneer
Ruth Rath, 92, dies


By Leila Fujimori

Ruth Hualani Lyman Rath once jumped into the ocean from a plane moments before it burst into flames.

She then saved the pilot and a fellow passenger by bringing them to shore, her son says.

The medical social worker had been on a routine clinical visit to the Hansen's disease settlement in Kalaupapa with a medical team in 1963 when their plane crashed.

In a Star-Bulletin article, fellow passenger Joseph Hathaway said Rath pushed him out of the plane and into the ocean not a minute too soon. The plane exploded 15 feet away from them.

"She was a tough, strong character" and "determined as steel," said her only child, James Arthur Rath III. But she always took care of people.

Ruth Rath died Sunday at the age of 92 at the Hale Nani Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. She lived in Nuuanu and Hawaii Kai.

Rath was a pioneer in social work and an advocate for women's rights.

As a social worker in Hawaii, California and Washington, "she always seemed to be looking out for the outcasts," her son said.

She fought the stigma of Hansen's disease with education and advocacy. She found homes for children born to patients sent to Kalaupapa.

Even as a 20-year-old, she sought reimbursement for lands seized from Hawaiians who were sent to Kalaupapa.

And during World War II, Rath volunteered to work in the tuberculosis ward at Tripler Army Medical Center. That impressed Dr. Edwin Chung-Hoon, who hired her for the state as a medical social worker at Kalaupapa.

"She was always very concerned about the Hansen's disease patients and their acceptance in the community," said Jeanne Paty, health education officer for the Department of Health during the 1950s and 1960s, who worked with Rath.

At that time, there was an effort to integrate more patients into the community with the availability of drugs to treat the disease, but they were still not being accepted.

Rath was the only social worker in the Hansen's disease division.

"She was a very caring person and helped the public understand the problems the patients had, as well as helping the patients themselves," Paty said. "I consider her a real pioneer in her field and for the people of Hawaii."

Rath, born in Wenatchee, Wash., was the eldest of six children. She grew up in Kohala on the Big Island and graduated from Punahou School in 1927.

Her father, Maj. David B. Lyman, was the first Salvation Army officer of Hawaiian ancestry.

Rath's lineage can be traced to Oahu's chief Kualii, as well as missionaries David and Sarah Lyman.

Longtime close friend Venus Gay Holt, 95, called Rath an exceptional person because she met her obligations to the community.

"She was always ready to donate and do things," Holt said. "She was a very generous person."

Holt recalled Rath having recipes for every island fruit and always donating jars of jelly to the Daughters of Hawaii, of which she was a member.

Rath leaves son James Arthur Rath III, brother Robert Lyman, five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and scores of nieces and nephews for whom she was the family matriarchal figure.

Services will be held at Central Union Church 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Mildred B. Allen, 95, of Wahiawa died June 28 in Wahiawa General Hospital. She was born in North Dakota. Inurnment: 10:30 a.m. Friday at Mililani Memorial Park.

Marcelino A. Busbuso, 89, of Ewa Beach, a retired public schoolteacher in the Philippines, died Oct. 16 in St. Francis-West Medical Center. He was born in the Philippines. He is survived by sons Francisco, Bienvenido, Marcelino Jr., Napoleon, Rene, Elpidio, Pepe and Judito; daughters Mimi Plateros, Teresita Rivera, Celsa Galacio and Perla Rhinehart; sister Isidora Visto, 35 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Mass:9 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church. Call after 8:30 a.m. Burial in Bohol, the Philippines at a later date. Casual attire. No flowers.

Manuel Carvalho, 91, of Hawi, Hawaii, a retired truck driver for Freitas Dairy, died last Wednesday in KohalaHospital. He was also a ranch hand. He was born in Kohala, Hawaii. He is survived by sister Emily DeLima. Mass: 10 a.m. Saturday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Hawi. Call from 8 to 9:45 a.m. Burial to follow. Casual attire.

Frances Lai Ching, 77, of Honolulu, a retired schoolteacher, died Oct. 9 at home. She was born in Honolulu. She is survived by husband Bernard; sons David, John and Paul; brothers Dr. Patrick Lai and Col. Leonard Lai, eight grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Private services.

Victor Grudgenski, 60, of Kaneohe, who retired from the U.S. Air Force, died Friday in Honolulu. He was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He is survived by wife Sally L.; daughters Francine Maika, Sue Anne Haskins, Victoria Kerr, Dawn Bennett and Tina Glendenning; sons Larry Curci and Kenneth Perez; mother Mary M.; sisters Joyce McDonald, Karen Hendrixson and Christine Drzewiecki, 18 grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Services:10 a.m. Friday at Hawaiian Memorial Park Mortuary. Call after 9 a.m. Burial:Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery. Donations suggested to the American Heart Association or United Cerebral Palsy.

Mary L. Hong, 81, of Waimanalo died Thursday in Castle Medical Center. She was born on Molokai. She is survived by son John Jr.; daughters Beatrice Meyer, Gloria Langley, Veronica Field, Mary Jean and Carolyn Hong and Ellen Wills; brothers; sisters; 17 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Mass:noon to 1 p.m. Saturday at St. George Church. Call after 11 a.m. Burial:Diamond Head Memorial Park. Casual attire. No flowers.

Charles K. Jeffrey, 49, of Honolulu died July 28 in Queen's Medical Center. He was born in Honolulu. Private services.

George P. Kahinu, 73, of Kalamaulu, Molokai, died Saturday in Queen's Medical Center. He was born in Hoolehua, Molokai.He is survived by children Eric and George Kahinu Jr., Lani Mahiai, Karen Kahalewai and Louise Iaea; sisters Harriet Amudsen and Virgie Lawrence, 18 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. Services: 11:30 a.m. Saturday at his residence, lot 19K Kamehameha 5 Highway in Kalamaula. Call after 9 a.m. Burial:Molokai Veterans Cemetery.

Henry K. Kaneaiakala, 69, of Nanakuli, a retired mason tender in the construction industry, died Oct. 17. He was raised in Pauoa Valley. He is survived by wife Alva; sons Cane, Shane and Shannon; daughters Erin and Erika; brother Joe; sisters Hannah and Sally, and two grandsons. Services:7:30 p.m. Sunday at Oahu Cemetery. Call from 6 to 9 p.m. Burial:11 a.m. Monday at Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery. Aloha attire.

Anderson K. Kilauano, 89, of Kekaha, Kauai, a retired longshoreman with McCabe Hamilton & Renny, died Tuesday in Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital. He was born in Mana, Kauai. He is survived by children Zina Dizol, Rhonda Golden, Vida Mossman, Eugene Perry and Kawailani Kilauano; sister Margaret Aipoalani, 14 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. Services:3 p.m. tomorrow at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Kekaha Ward. Call after 1 p.m. Burial:Kekaha Hawaiian Cemetery.

Arthur A.L. Lau, 82, of Honolulu, a retired meat manager for Everybody's Supermarket, died Thursday in Straub Clinic and Hospital. He was born in Mokuleia. He is survived by wife Betty; son Gordon; daughter Connie Muschek; brother Richard; sisters Violet Young, Rose Carbonel, Grace Mokulehua and Linda Daima, and six grandchildren. Services: 9:45 a.m. Monday at Diamond Head Mortuary. Call after 8:30 a.m. Burial:Diamond Head Memorial Park. Casual attire.

Toshito "Rusty"Matsumoto, 85, of Aiea, a retired plumbing contractor, died Saturday in Kapiolani Medical Center at Pali Momi. He was born in Waianae. He is survived by wife Norma H.; sons Wayne K., Craig T. and Steve F.; daughter Jean A.; brothers Don K. and Glenn M., and seven grandchildren. Services:4 p.m. Saturday at Hosoi Garden Mortuary. Casual attire. No flowers.

Warren V. McPherson, 73, of Kihei, Maui, a self-employed meat dealer, died Sunday at home. He was also a former boat captain for fishing, cruises and sightseers in Massachusetts and a retired school bus driver for Akina Bus Line. He was born in Boston.He is survived by wife Rosalie; sons Michael and Adam; daughter Pamela Bello; sisters Marcia Keiley and Jo Ann Desautels, and five grandchildren. Graveside services:11 a.m. Saturday at St. Joseph Cemetery, West Roxbury, Mass. Reception:Winchester Country Club.

Florencio C. Mendoza, 62, of Keaau, Hawaii died Sept. 12 in Hilo Medical Center. He was born in the Philippines. He is survived by wife Clarita R.R.; sons Romeo, Ronald, Meliton and James; daughter Eufemia; brother Jonny; sisters Fely Cristobal, Herminia Subia and Andrea Mendoza, and four grandchildren. Mass: 7 p.m. Friday at Immaculate Concepcion Church. Call from 6 to 9 p.m. Final services and burial in the Philippines. Casual attire. No flowers.

Michael G. Robello, 47, of Honolulu, a University of Hawaii at Manoa physical education instructor, died Friday. He was also a Punahou School boys bowling coach. He was born in Honolulu. He is survived by brother Lawrence and sisters Winona Nix, Francene Hinson, Lindy Yeoman and Sophie Robello. Services: 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Thurston Memorial Chapel at Punahou School. Call after 10 a.m.

Marylyn "M"K. Rosario, 40, of Waianae, a cashier at Yuen's Grocery Store, died Saturday in Honolulu. She was born in Nanakuli. She is survived by husband Bryan; son Larry; brothers Peter, Vernal, Thomas and Duane Kaaialii, and sisters Violet Thompson, Irene Ku, Patricia Davis, Sharlene Newman, Darlene West, Doreen Kaaialii, Sharon Blackburn and Sharade Carba. Memorial services:3 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Soka Gakkai International, U.S.A. (SGI-USA), 2729 Pali Hwy., Honolulu. Casual attire. No flowers.

Lazaro "Sagaysay" Sagocio, 97, of Haleiwa, who retired from Waialua Sugar Plantation, died Oct. 14 in Wahiawa General Hospital. He was born in the Philippines. He is survived by sons Harry A. and Lolito; daughter Rosalina "Rose" Barcina; brother Avelino, 10 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Private services and burial held.

Masaharu "Masa"Sakuda, 79, of Honolulu, a retired Paradise Beverage Co. warehouseman, died Saturday. He was born in Ookala, Hawaii. He is survived by wife Nancy; sons Glenn, Ross and Donn; brothers Tomoichi and Stanley; sisters Shizue Oshijima and Nancy Tomimoto, and four grandchildren. Memorial services:noon Sunday at Hosoi GardenMortuary. Call after 11 a.m. Casual attire. No flowers.

Tsutao Sato, 93, of Lihue, Kauai, died Oct. 14. He was born in Lihue. He is survived by son Harold D.; daughters Karen Tamaye and Katherine S. McNelly; brothers Haruo and Toshiyuki; sisters Matsuko Sakamoto and Nobuko Kusatsu, 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Private services.

Guang Rong Tan, 52, of Honolulu, a chef, died Sunday in Honolulu. He was born in China. He is survived by wife Jie Qing and son George. Private services.

Melchora A. Vidad, 94, of Waialua died Oct. 14 in Wahiawa General Hospital. She was born in the Philippines. She is survived by son Remigio; eight grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren. Mass: 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Michael Church. Call after 9 a.m. Burial: Mililani Memorial Park.

Juichi "Jay" Yamashita, 72, of Hilo died Sunday in Hilo Medical Center. He was born in Paauilo, Hawaii. He is survived by wife Lillian; son Charles T.; daughter Joy H. Goodwin; brothers Koichi and Saburo; sister Joyce Takahashi, and three grandchildren. Services:5 p.m. Saturday at Dodo Mortuary. Call after 4 p.m. Scattering of ashes:Sunday. Casual attire. No flowers.

You can also search the Hawaii State Library System's
Hawaii Newspaper Index online for older obituaries at:
The index, which goes back several decades,
is available via Telnet software.

E-mail to City Desk

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