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Woman's hospital memories contradict "birthers"

U.S. House candidate Chris Nelson earlier this week dismissed "birther" statements attributed to him and said he believes Barack Obama is a natural-born U.S. citizen and the legitimately elected president of the United States.

So does Eleanor Nordyke -- and according to her, she should know.

Nordyke, 82, of Honolulu, Hawaii, says that on Aug. 4, 1961, she was in labor with her twin daughters Susan and Gretchen at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital -- the same place Barack Obama was being born. The hospital has since been renamed Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women and Children.

"Birthers" is the term given to those who believe Obama was not born in the United States and does not, therefore, meet a primary qualification for the presidency.

Nordyke, in a Friday telephone interview with The Daily Republic, said the birthers have consistently discounted her testimony. She is certain they are wrong.

A birther claim that Obama was born in Kenya, she said, is "just a myth. It's not true at all."

Nordyke, a longtime friend and Stanford University classmate of Mitchell resident Kathryn Crockett, said the birther issue has been "a broil in Hawaii for the past two years." Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle on Thursday signed legislation designed to limit requests for Obama's birth documents. That move has only outraged birthers.

Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed Obama's citizenship, saying they have seen his birth certificate.

Hawaii law prevents the release of full "long form" birth information to anyone but family members, Nordyke said, "so for the birthers to keep clamoring for it is ridiculous." She said the leaders of the birther movement are using the false claims to reap financial gain.

Nordyke said Obama's birth notices appeared in the Aug. 13, 1961, Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

She recalls that Obama's birth notice was published several days before her daughters' notice, even though Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was admitted to Kapiolani Hospital after Nordyke entered the hospital. Obama was born on a Friday, and the Nordyke twins were born on a Saturday, she said.

Nordyke's late husband, Dr. Robert Nordyke, was an internal medicine specialist at Honolulu's Straub Clinic.

"My daughters' birth certificates were 10637 and 10638, and Obama's was 10641, so his mother must have come in after I did," Nordyke said, though she never met Obama's mother.

Nordkye said she doesn't know who Obama's mother's doctor was, but only five obstetricians were at the hospital at the time, she said. Birthers have complained that the name of the attending physician is being hidden.

For about six years, Nordyke's daughters attended school with Obama at the Punahou School, a school of about 4,000 geared for the college-bound, which Nordyke called "the best school in Hawaii."

She said that while race now appears to be important to the birthers, it was a "non-issue at Punahou school."

There, she said, Obama was known as "Barry" to her daughters, whose photos appear with Obama on the same page of the school's 1979 yearbook.

Daughter Susan Bell had fond memories of "hanging out" in the school library with Obama and several other classmates.

A graduate of Stanford and Harvard, Bell now lives in Sunnyvale, Calif. She wrote in a letter to her mother that Obama "was bright, thoughtful, fun, good-natured, musical and respectful to all. What a delight to see him fulfill his potential and what an inspiration he is to so many."

Her sister, Gretchen Worthington, a nutritionist, lives in Littleton, Colo.

Nordyke said that years later, she met Barack Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, on a three-week long cruise to Tahiti.

"She was in group of eight gals," Nordyke said, who recalled that Dunham was a "very intelligent person" who was strong in her opinions and not much given to small talk.

"She said she was very proud of her grandson who was doing community work in Chicago. She said her daughter had passed away and she helped to raise him."

Nordyke worked for 25 years as a population specialist at Honolulu's East-West Center. After her retirement, she published several books on Hawaiian history. She has no doubt that Obama was born American.

"He loves Hawaii," Nordyke said. "This was his home. I think that in his heart, Hawaii is still his home."