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Flight attendant retires after 63 years

Aug. 25, 2012 at 5:42 PM

BOULDER, Colo., Aug. 25 (UPI) -- A Hawaiian man who went to work for United Airlines as a flight attendant when Harry Truman was president is hanging up his wings.

Ron Akana, 83, who now lives in Boulder, Colo., is to retire Sunday after one last flight to Honolulu, the Boulder Daily Camera reported. He will be crew chief and his wife, son, daughter and grandson will all be on the plane.

On the flight back, Akana, who has been named the longest-serving flight attendant by the Guinness Book of World Records, will also be a passenger.

"I know I'll miss it, but the time has come -- aching bones and joints," he said.

Akana, a native of Honolulu, joined United in 1949. One of the big benefits in the early days was a chance to get away from Hawaii and see places like San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Over the decades, he has encountered passengers like Deborah Kerr, Red Skelton and President Bill Clinton after his presidency. Skelton once entertained other passengers with a silent parody of Akana doing a safety presentation.

"He just had everybody laughing," Akana said. "No one was listening to me, of course."

Akana's wife Elizabeth was also a United attendant when they met in 1962, although the rules current at the time meant she had to leave her job when they married. Their daughter, Jean, is also a flight attendant and also with United.

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