LIHUE — Kauai lost a beloved member of its family recently when Malina Pereza died June 19 after a battle with acute myeloid leukemia type M4.
She was 26.
Those who knew and loved the 2005 Kauai High School graduate remembered a passionate, young mother of a 3-year-old daughter who never lost her zest for life after being diagnosed in January. Pereza underwent a stem cell transplant procedure at Stanford Medical Center in California earlier this year.
“She was my best friend,” said Kaila Anderson in a phone interview Monday from the Mainland where she is attending school. “I saw her last week and she was OK. It’s hard. I know she is in a better place now.”
The community held several fundraisers to help with financial needs, including a kickball game, benefit concert, tennis tournament, as well as car washes, bake sales and other events.
Kauai Historical Society Executive Director Mary Requilman remembered Pereza from the four-year period when Pereza was an archivist at KHS.
“She walked in the door four years ago just looking for a community project to work on for her master’s degree in library science, but soon became a permanent part of the staff,” said Requilman.
Requilman recalled that at the age of 22, Pereza impressed her with with her Hawaiian language skills and her robust interest in Kauai.
“She could have worked at larger libraries, in bigger cities, and made a lot more money, but Pereza had no desire to leave Kauai and was happy to be part of the KHS staff,” Requilman said. “Malina was studying library science but said she didn’t really want to be a librarian — that really all she wanted to be was an archivist. That is what we do here and so we immediately latched on to her.”
Requilman said Monday that Pereza will be missed by those who were lucky enough to have known her.
“You just don’t expect anything like that to happen to anyone who so young,” she said. “It really is a terrific loss to the Historical Society and to her family.”
Her family declined to comment.