Josefina “Joey” <I>Veluya</I> Guerrero-Leaumax


Josefina “Joey” Veluya Guerrero-Leaumax

Lucban, Quezon Province, CALABARZON, Philippines
Death 18 Jun 1996 (aged 77–78)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Burial Cremated, Specifically: Ashes interred in a marble wall at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington DC
Memorial ID 194926311 View Source

Leper and Spy in the Philippines during World War II, she married the first time when she was 16 but her husband left and took their daughter after her leprosy diagnosis. Her leprosy allowed her to cross into Japanese camps and record intelligence and ferry messages between US troops and she would eventually smuggle food, medicine, and supplies to POWs. After the war ended she came to the US because better treatments for lepers were available stateside then back home in the Philippines. Josefina received a Medal of Freedom from the US government for her work. She is the first known person to be given a visa to come to the US for leprosy treatment. For a few years she was threatened with deportation (having been granted a visitor's visa when she first immigrated for treatment) but finally was granted US citizenship after divorcing her second husband. When she died she was only known as a woman who worked as an usher at the Kennedy Center for seventeen years.

Her obituary in the Washington Post appeared on 28 June 1996 and read as follows:
Kennedy Center Usher
Joey Guerrero Leaumax, 68, a retired secretary who had worked as an usher at the Kennedy Center for the last 17 years, died of cardiopulmonary arrest on June 18 at George Washington University Medical Center.
Ms. Leaumax, who had lived in Washington since 1977, was a secretary in the publications department of the Gold and Silver Institutes in Washington from 1977 until her retirement in 1990.
She was born in Manila and graduated from San Francisco State University. She received a master's degree in Spanish literature from Middlebury College, then spent four years as a Peace Corps volunteer, teaching English, music, and drawing to children and adults in Niger, Columbia, and El Salvador.
She was a member of St. Stephen-Martyr Catholic Church in Washington.
She leaves no immediate survivors"
(Source: The Leper Spy by Ben Montgomery)


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