Centenarian finally confronts his Josephines

Tom Yamada of Wailuku celebrates his 100th birthday Saturday at the Wailuku Hongwanji Mission with a pair of “Josephines,” Nelson Okumura (left) and Irvin Yamada. The hijinks were inspired by an old newspaper clipping Tom Yamada carried in his wallet for years. The story detailed how a woman named Josephine gave away a million dollars to charity and Yamada always cracked that he was looking for that woman to help her learn to spend her money more wisely – on having fun. Tom Yamada, who was born in Kahului and will turn 100 on Thursday, still drives his own car and travels to visit friends in Japan and Canada. As a member of the 100th Infantry Battalion and later the Military Intelligence Service, he served 4 1/2 years. At the end of World War II, he served as interpreter for Japanese Gen. Hideki Tojo and guarded the former leader of the Imperial Army to prevent him from making another attempt at suicide. Tom Yamada said the secret to a long life is “good times.” “I still travel at my age. I’ve been all over the world.” He said he never smoked and that the best food to eat for longevity is “leftovers.” The birthday celebration was held as part of the quarterly luncheon of the 442nd Veterans Club. Okumura and Irvin Yamada are associates of the club.