Awarding The Forever Young

Yu Shing Ting
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Friday - July 30, 2008
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John Henry Felix
John Henry Felix

Are you or do you know someone who is young at heart?

Mayor Mufi Hannemann and the City & County of Honolulu want to recognize Hawaii residents who exemplify successful aging and are living each day with adventure and opportunities after age 65.

Nominations for the Honolulu Forever Young awards are due this Friday, Aug. 1, and six honorees will be acknowledged at an award luncheon ceremony to be held Oct. 7 at the Hawaii Prince Hotel.

“Clinical research has clearly documented the protective factors of having strong social support networks and working in a positive environment beyond the typical retirement age of 65,” says Debbie Kim Morikawa, director of the Department of Community Services for the city. “People who remain socially engaged and physically active live longer and are more functionally independent than those who become socially isolated.

“The intent of the Honolulu Forever Young Awards is to highlight those individuals who have not viewed 65 as the time to retire and take it easy, but to get reinvigorated to pursue new or greater challenges. We want to acknowledge people who, in addition to the work they do everyday, have exercised their civic responsibilities and gotten more involved in giving back to their communities.”

At age 78, John Henry Felix is not ready to retire. In fact, he says he will never retire.

Felix currently serves as CEO of medical insurance provider HMAA, as well as chairman and managing partner for Paradise Memorial Park in Hawaii Kai, CEO of Eagle Investments Incorporated and vice-chair for Best Bridal Hawaii.

He also serves on many boards, including the Boy Scouts, Red Cross and March of Dimes, and is chairman and CEO of Abilities Unlimited.

“I believe there is no retirement age,” says Felix, who served four terms as a Honolulu City Council member. “I can’t imagine ever retiring. Life is short, so I feel that you have to live life to its fullest. To do anything to the contrary is a terrible waste.”

Felix says in addition to his job and endless list of community service work, he also exercises regularly (he walks at least five miles a day) and chooses hobbies that challenge his mind, such as playing chess and reading.

“I also watch my diet carefully,” adds Felix. “And I drink red wine in moderation.”

According to Morikawa, the idea for the Honolulu Forever Young Awards initially grew out of the city’s concern for the rapidly growing need for community-based long-term care services in Honolulu.

“We believed if we wanted different results, we needed to think and do things differently,” she explains. “Rather than focusing only on expanding long-term care services, and based on current research, the city has decided to take on a campaign to change the perception of retirement and aging.

“We recognized the need to tap into our experienced work force and step up efforts to retain as well as bring back the very capable retired city workers, which is why we pushed for legislation this session that would reduce the penalty for retirees to return to the city.”

According to the city, one out of every five individuals is over the age of 60, which equates to about 170,000 people on Oahu. About 20 percent or 34,000 of these individuals are still in the work force and many are actively making a difference in our communities through service acts every day.

To submit a nomination for the city’s inaugural Honolulu Forever Young Awards, presented by AIG Hawaii and HMAA in partnership with HMSA and Queen’s Health System, visit Forms also are available by calling 768-7760.

Six individuals will be selected for their achievements in career successes, community service/philanthropy, mentoring, building social capacity and healthy aging.


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