By Paul C. Curtis – The Garden Island
Those on the Eastside of the island might not have a clue who Althea Pualani Lehua (Brandt) Lazaro was.
But people into sports, and those on the Westside, know Kaua’i has lost a special person too young to be allowed to leave.
Lazaro, whose sons are known for their softball and hardball prowess, died last week at the age of 62.
Her death marked the end of intense suffering from cancer that started in her colon, and spread to her lungs and liver, said Lani Keuma, her only daughter.
The Lazaros were Family of the Year in 1996 for the island of Kaua’i, and though her sons are known for their athletic prowess, she made a name for herself by performing community service, Keuma said.
“She did a lot of community work,” towards the end as an outreach counselor for Nurse Finders, a position that exposed her to people all over the island, her daughter said.
“She was well-liked in the community,” and volunteered with the American Red Cross, Kauai Food Bank, and Waimea United Church of Christ, Keuma said.
Since she died, her fellow church members and others have surprised Lazaro family members by coming up to them and telling them stories of their mother’s kindness, stories their mother never shared with them, said Keuma.
Lazaro, whose husband Damiano Lazaro passed away nearly 16 years ago, kept herself busy raising grandchildren at the family home in Kekaha, next to the county’s H.P. Fayé Park.
Those grandchildren, now ages 18 months to 23 years, are still coming to terms with the loss of their grandmother, who was much more like a mother to them, Keuma said.
The last month was very hard for family members, as Lazaro was “up and down,” said Keuma, happy that her mother’s suffering is over.
She died at home, in her sleep on Jan. 31. In addition to her husband, her sister Joyce Puu, preceded her in death.
She is survived by five sons: Chico (Elise) Lazaro, Leroy Lazaro, Michael (Wanda) Lazaro and Damien (Theri) Lazaro, all of Kekaha, and Kimo (Rochelle) Lazaro of Waimea; daughter Lani (Kainoa) Keuma of Hanapepe; 19 grandchildren; brothers Hubert Brandt of Kekaha and Melvin (Sweetheart) Berengue of O’ahu; brother-in-law Charlie Puu of O’ahu and numerous uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.
Other family members include Sonny (Carol) Hoopii of Kekaha; Hale (Nancy) Dela Cruz of Maui; sister-in-law Cecilia Lazaro of Kekaha; Anthony (Hilda) Lazaro of Kekaha; Paleka (Sunni) Lazaro of Kekaha; Peggy Wisneski of Kekaha; Barbara (Chico) Frasco of Kekaha; and Mercy Lazaro of Kekaha.
Friends may visit with the family from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Waimea United Church of Christ.
A service, officiated by Pastor Olaf, will begin at 11 a.m., followed by burial at Kekaha Public Cemetery. Family members suggest casual attire.
Arrangements are being handled by professionals at Garden Island Mortuary, Ltd.
- Paul C. Curtis, associate editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or firstname.lastname@example.org