MILILANI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A former state lawmaker is one of the outstanding women being recognized this year by the YWCA of Oahu. Marilyn Lee is a community leader who loves to take care of those around her. She was born in Schenectady, New York and knew early on that she wanted to pursue a career in nursing.
"I always was fixing up my dolls and pets and taking care of things," she explained.
Lee became a U.S. Navy nurse and was assigned to Bethesda, Maryland. Around that time, she met her late husband, Sam Lee, who was a foreign service officer from Hawaii.
"Somehow I went out on a blind date with him and the rest is history!" recalled Lee.
They lived abroad before settling down on Oahu. Marilyn worked at Wahiawa General Hospital for 25 years. She also succeeded her husband as a state representative for the Mililani district .
"One thing about politicians, they need to have the ability to interact with people. I think nursing is really great training for that, and interact with people that may be difficult to interact with," Lee said.
She served in the legislature for 16 years, advocating for women, kupuna and victims' rights.
Lee, 76, considers herself to be extremely lucky, blessed with four children and seven grandchildren. But there is one challenge that she has discovered at this point in her life: age discrimination.
"It's sometime very subtle, the feeling that because you're older you're not competent or you're not able to do what other people do," she said.
Marilyn is busier than ever these days, hosting a show on Olelo and volunteering for several community groups. She is also gearing up to run for her former seat in the State House.
This YWCA honoree with seemingly endless energy offers this advice to others: "Be yourself. Try to put other people first. Be kind."