Florence Puana, the family matriarch embroiled in the Kealoha trial, died Thursday at home.
Family and friends remember her as a courageous woman, whose strength helped reveal the truth about her granddaughter, Katherine Kealoha.
Because of her health, Florence had to testify through a video deposition. Jurors say her testimony was critical in getting justice for her and her son Gerard.
The jury took just over a day in finding Katherine and Louis Kealoha guilty of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. In her testimony, Florence recalled how she trusted Katherine, who then stole the money from a reverse mortgage on the Puana family home.
“That’s so gut wrenching and heartfelt. What she testified to, and the fact that she lost her home, the home that she built with her husband for their family,” said Alexander Silvert, who was Gerard Puana’s attorney when he was falsely accused of mailbox theft by the Kealohas.
“I felt it was too good to be true. I couldn’t believe I did such a wonderful job,” said Florence during an interview in August, after the trial.
During that interview, she said she had forgiven her granddaughter. Not just for stealing the money, but also for the pain Katherine caused in framing Gerard, for mailbox theft.
“You know when I think of those things, I just say you have to forget about it cause it’s too much to bear, too much to bear,” said Florence.
The family celebrated her 100th birthday in August. Everyone marveled at her strength and how sharp she was at that age. As a mom who raised nine children, she remained the guiding light of the family throughout the years.
They released a statement saying:
“The Florence M. Puana ohana wish to express our sincere appreciation to all our family and friends for their prayers, comfort, and support over the years. Florence passed peacefully at home at five this morning and has gone to be with her Savior. Please respect our privacy as we deal with her passing.”
“She was the warmest and nicest person you’ve ever met. You come into her home and whether she was in the wheelchair or she’s in her bed, she reaches out and just grabs you and makes you feel right at home, no matter what’s going on,” said Silvert.