PPS honors ranching women of the far West

  • Seven women pictured here — Josephine Castro Boteilho, Christine Correia Carlton, Paula DeSilva, Rose Cambra Freitas, Dorothea Siu Len Yee Miranda, Elviera Marie Lucas Miranda and Sally Rice — will be honored at “Ranch Women of the Far West” Feb. 16 in Waimea. (COURTESY PHOTO/PPS)

WAIMEA — On Feb. 17, the Paniolo Preservation Society (PPS) will honor seven women who have made significant contributions to Hawaii’s ranching communities with the Silver Spur Award at a special “Ranch Women of the Far West” event at Pukalani Stables in Waimea.

“It started about eight years ago and we’ve had it every three years or so,” retired Parker Ranch veterinarian Billy Bergin said. “It was really an initiative to balance the awards when you realize that all too often we overlook those people who have showed up to work loyally and productively, people that are in the shadows but are just as vital.”

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The seven ranching women are Josephine Castro Boteilho, Christine Correia Carlton, Paula DeSilva, Rose Cambra Freitas, Dorothea Siu Len Yee Miranda, Elviera Marie Lucas Miranda and Sally Rice. Tributes from family members, friends and co-workers will be shared at the event, and Boteilho, De Silva, Freitas and Rice will attend.

The evening will begin at 5 p.m. with a dinner of heavy finger food at 6 p.m. Starting at 7 p.m. the women will be honored.

Tickets are $15 per person, or free for kids, and are available in advance at Parker Ranch Store or the Paniolo Heritage Center at Pukalani Stables.

Josephine Castro Boteilho

Josephine was born on Oahu but grew up on Maui where she met and married Ed Boteilho at the age of 15. The couple moved to Paauilo mauka and began the Clover Leaf Dairy. Beyond raising seven children, whom she encouraged towards a college education, “Josephine’s role was far beyond motherhood. There were many newborn calves that needed to be fed and tended to,” Bergin said.

According to her family, living in isolation with no conveniences, “Josephine became a pioneer woman, quickly learning how to survive – raising chickens, pigs, cattle, growing vegetables, milking cows and riding horseback. She was living in a man’s world, doing a man’s job, quickly learning the business.”

Christine Correia Carlton

Christine was born and raised on Kukaiau Ranch and spent a good deal of her life in the ranching village of Umikoa, near Paauilo.

“In 1958, Umikoa 4-H Club was started. Christine, along with Vera and William Miranda and her brother, Frank Correia, led the club to be one of the most successful ones on the island,” her daughter, Michelle Kauhi, said.

The 4-H club was the foundation of the village.

“She encouraged the multitude of kids of many different ethnicities to enter 4H. Along with honorees Dorothea and Vera Miranda, Christine did an awful lot to foster sportsmanship, education and diligence in all of the children,” Bergin recalled.

Christine’s many talents include horse racing, horsemanship and becoming the first Hawaii Saddle Club Rodeo Queen at its inception in 1954.

“Some people may remember how she made her entrance into the arena, rode to the middle, dismounted and made her horse lie down for the audience,” Kauhi said.

Paula DeSilva

Beginning in 1972, Paula served her entire career at Parker Ranch. She arrived about the time the ranch was digitizing the data collection system.

“She transitioned the system from an archaic manual one to a highly sophisticated process whereby the inventory of more than 50,000 head of cattle and nearly a thousand horses was managed with perfection,” her family related.

“As the veterinarian there for 25 years, I had 48 different measures of animal health. If I wanted to know on Feb. 1 the incidents of black leg, she’d press a button and I’d get a printout,” Bergin said.

By the time she retired, Paula had been promoted to executive assistant for David Ramos, the executive vice president of Parker Ranch operations.

Rose Cambra Freitas

Rose started riding horses at the Hawaiian Commercial &Sugar Plantation Camp 5, and later moved to the ranching community of Makawao when she was 18. She worked on Freitas ranch and competed in rodeo events. Her passion was barrel racing and she traveled to the mainland to compete in the National Barrel Horse Association World Championship.

In 2006 Rose was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame at Fort Worth, Texas.

“Rose Cambra Freitas represents the best of Hawaiian cowboy or paniolo culture through sharing knowledge of the Western lifestyle with people of all ages. Recognized as one of Maui’s 100 most influential people in the past 100 years, Freitas co-founded the Maui All Girls and Junior Boys and Girls Rodeo Association,” reads the museum tribute.

“I find it hard to choose what to say about Rose without writing a book about her. We value her as resource on horses and value her passing on her knowledge to us,” Bergin added.

Dorothea Siu Len Yee Miranda

The daughter of Chinese plantation workers in Kohala, Dorothea yearned for an education, eventually graduating from the University of Hawaii, Manoa. As a young single woman she taught elementary school, but after marrying Willie Miranda, she was a lifelong teacher for her children and the Kukaiau ranching community.

According to her family, “She created an environment that allowed us to reach our potential. Mom called the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service about starting a 4-H club and it became a community activity for all the ranch families and was our window to the world.”

Elviera Marie Lucas Miranda

Elviera met and married Willie Miranda’s brother, Daniel, in California and soon found herself living on Kukaiau Ranch.

“As a stay-at-home mom of five children she quickly learned how to cook, make bread, jerk meat and sausage and other ranch treats. Living off the land was an all-new challenge,” her family shared.

Along with being instrumental in the 4-H program, which served the entire community, “Her kitchen and our home were always open to any hungry family members, friends or wayward travelers that would stop by for a cup of coffee, a quick meal or a piece of homemade apple pie after coming off the mountain,” recalled her family.

After her children were raised and with encouragement from her sister in-law, Dorothea returned to school to earn a degree in nursing.

Sally Rice

Born on a small cattle farm in Western Pennsylvania, agriculture goes back at least three generations for Sally. After earning an agriculture degree from Cornell University, she moved to Hawaii with her husband, Maui born Freddy Rice.

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Sally began a career in agriculture at Kahuku Ranch, including the development of commercial tree farms, restoration of native forest, agricultural livestock and crop irrigation water systems, and the development of coffee, macadamia nut and tropical fruit orchards.

“She’s Hawaii Island’s matriarch of agriculture. She is the go-to girl in almost every field of agriculture. She did a lot of research on range management, the introduction of grasses and legumes and rotational grazing,” Bergin concluded.