HONOLULU — Ivalee Sinclair learned about her husband's brush with history at the same time as the rest of the world. On Wednesday, the widow of Honolulu obstetrician David Sinclair printed a copy of President Barack Obama's full birth certificate from the Internet, and said she recognized the familiar left-handed cursive on the document.
"It's my husband's signature," she said referring to the name signed below that of Obama's mother in the spot for "signature of attendant."
Obama released the birth certificate in response to long-running questions about whether he was actually born in the United States and eligible to be president.
Sinclair, who died in 2003 at 81, had an obstetrics and gynecology practice in Honolulu and delivered babies all over Hawaii when Obama was born in 1961, said his son Karl Sinclair, 55, of Kailua.
Relatives said that while they previously never made the connection, looking back it makes sense that Sinclair delivered Obama because there were few obstetricians in Honolulu at the time. His six children grew up accustomed to him leaving home at all hours and holidays to deliver babies.
The family first heard about Sinclair's connection to Obama because one of their relatives was awake at 3 a.m. watching the news and saw the signature, said Dawn Yoshimura-Sinclair, who is married to another Sinclair son, Brian Sinclair.
"We can attest to the fact that it is indeed dad's signature," Yoshimura-Sinclair said. "It's not a common name over here. There's no confusion that it was dad."
Ivalee Sinclair said her husband never discussed his patients and that delivering a black child born to a white mother wouldn't be a detail he would focus on.
"He never would have brought anything like that up," she said. "He delivered a lot of children. I have no idea how many."
Born in Portland, Ore., Sinclair moved to Hawaii at 15 because his father was an engineer who helped build Wilson tunnel on Oahu. The doctor joined the military after hearing the Pearl Harbor bombing from his front lawn, Ivalee Sinclair said. He was an Army pilot and witnessed so much death during the war that he became a doctor so he could have a career focusing on giving life.
"I think he became a doctor because he was concerned about all the people who died in the war," his widow said. "I think he wanted to do something to make up for that."
Ivalee Sinclair met her future husband during trigonometry class at the University of Hawaii, where he enrolled after the war. He later went to medical school at the University of California at San Francisco, where he completed his residency.
Sinclair returned to Honolulu with his wife and children in 1960. He delivered babies mostly at the hospital now known as Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, just a couple miles from his home and the one listed as Obama's place of birth.
The Sinclair sons said they imagine their father would be thrilled that one of the babies he delivered grew up to be president.
"I'm just honored and proud of my father," Karl Sinclair said.5 comments on this story
"I think it's great," said Brian Sinclair, who followed his father into medicine. "Hawaii was a very small place back then so I guess I'm not surprised."
Brian Sinclair graduated from the same high school as Obama but didn't know him personally.
The Sinclair family includes Obama supporters and those who didn't vote for him. They hope the birth certificate will end the speculation over Obama.
"To me, the birth certificate doesn't lie," Karl Sinclair said. "I think that should put everything to bed."