Kupuna Life: A life of ‘Sunshine’ and mentorship

Kupuna Life

HONOLULU (KHON2) — She nails every entrance with that million-dollar smile.

Even as she enters the Nuuanu YMCA pool for water aerobics up to four times per week, and even at the age of 104.

“Well, I’m very lucky. I’ve had a long life and it’s still going,” said Sau Chun, who’s 104-year-young.

KHON2’s Kathy Muneno asked, “Do you enjoy it?”

“Oh, very much,” Sau Chun said. “I hope I don’t die.”

Sau Chun was born in Liliha, graduated from Mckinley High and the University of Hawaii and became a teacher at McKinley and other schools.

She married, moved to China, had two children, and moved to Hong Kong. They were very instrumental in building Hawaii-China relations and were involved in philanthropy, returning to Hawaii in the 80s.

“It’s just too wonderful to be in Hawaii,” she said.

Yen Chun, Sau Chun’s daughter: “Mom has a philosophy of forgive and forget and she’s always looking at the good side of things, she’s very positive,” said Sau Chun’s daughter, Yen Chun. “Always appreciate people appreciate her life, even when we have tragedy at home.”

And even when that tragedy was the loss of her son in a plane crash in 1979.

“She will just say look at the good things, ‘Look at my son who lived a full life when he was living’ so it’s always positive,” said Yen Chun.

“She is always positive,” said Annie Chen, Sau Chen’s goddaughter. “There is no bad side to getting old and there’s only the upside to every day that she experiences and that’s how I want to live out my life.”

Annie Chen is one of Sau Chun’s 16 goddaughters. She has three godsons as well. They come from around the world for Sau Chun’s birthdays. Being her godchild is never a given, but an honor earned, bestowed.

“Aunty Sau Chun is particularly inspiring to people of my age who are aging and we need a role model so that we age well and elegantly,” said Annie Chen.

“What I love about her is when people get old usually, they hunker down and close in and they don’t go see anyone and they sit in front of the tv,” said Denby Fawcett, one of Saun Chun’s goddaughters. “But in her case her life expands. It’s constantly expanding outwards, trying new things. She takes risks.”

KHON’s Kathy Muneno asked, “Were you like a mother or mentor to them, to your goddaughters?”

“Oh yeah,” said Sau Chun. “If they’ll listen.”

No surprise, Sau Chun’s nickname is Sunshine.

Kathy Muneno asked, “Is there anything else, advice you have?”

“Well, just enjoy. Enjoy it and lucky you have it,” Sau Chun said.

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