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105-year-old woman unafraid of adventure

  • COURTESY PHOTO
    Saramae Williams Landers of Pahoa on the Big Island celebrated her 105th birthday on April 4. The state Senate honored her this month for her outstanding lifelong achievements.
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At 75, she took scuba lessons to prepare for a trip to the Great Barrier Reef.

At 80, she and two other women rented out their houses and rode a train across India.

Last year, the adventurous world traveler rode an elephant in Thailand.

Pahoa resident Saramae Williams Landers celebrated her 105th birthday earlier this month and was honored by the state Senate for her outstanding lifelong achievements.

Landers left her small hometown of Samaria, Idaho, to teach on the Big Island, arriving in Hilo by freighter in 1928.

She taught non-English-speaking children, mostly children of Japanese plantation workers, at preschools and at Puu Maile Home.

A 2009 novel, "Haole Teacher," by Margaret Drake, was loosely based on Landers’ experiences in Hilo.

"We have different languages, but we all laugh and cry in the same language, and that makes us united," Landers said by telephone. "We have that same connection."

Despite having survived the Spanish influenza when she was 12 and cancer three times (breast, uterine and skin), she remains upbeat and happy, said her daughter Sara Burgess, with whom she lives.

She wakes up at 6:15 a.m. daily and catches a bus to the senior center.

Landers’ philosophy on life is simple: "I just take it one day at a time. I think, ‘Yesterday’s gone, so there’s no use in worrying about what’s already happened. And tomorrow isn’t here, so enjoy today.’"

She attended the University of Idaho and the University of Hawaii and received a master’s degree in psychology.

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