The North Shore community is mourning the loss of a longtime teacher.
For 44 years, Gail Pule shaped the minds of young students at Sunset Beach Elementary School.
Her influence spanned generations, parents and children taught by the same caring educator.
Pule died on Feb. 13 after suffering a stroke. For four days, she lay in the hospital, unresponsive but alive.
During that time, many of the students she had nurtured over the last four decades came to say their goodbyes.
John John Florence was among them.
Before he became one of the world’s top professional surfers, the winner of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big-wave surf contest was a student in her sixth-grade class.
So was fellow pro surfer Billy Kemper, who kept Pule in his thoughts as he competed nearly halfway around the world.
Fresh off the news that he had shot to the top spot in the World Surf League’s Big Wave Tour rankings, he choked up as he paid tribute to her from Portugal.
“There’s some people back at home right now. One of our teachers, Ms. Pule, I want to give a shoutout to her, and my mom. I love you guys,” Kemper said at the Nazare Challenge awards ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 11.
Pule’s family says musician Jack Johnson even stopped by to play her a tune.
Those who knew Pule say she loved everyone — no matter how famous, or troublesome.
Her daughter, LeeAnn Moani Keala Pule-Viernes, said:
“My Mom was an amazing teacher. She literally came with the buildings of Sunset Beach Elementary School in 1973, when it was considered an annex of Kahuku Elementary School. She was the most amazing person and never met a student she didn’t think had amazing potential. It is because of her that I am teacher. Our family is so grateful to have been able to share our amazing Mom with so many. Not only was she an awesome educator, she was an outstanding Mother to myself, my brother and sister, and our many hanai brothers and sisters. We are so fortunate to have been blessed with the best example of unconditional love and compassion. But we are so happy for her to be reunited with the love of her life after 31 years. The party they must be having. I love you Mom.”
While she may be gone, they say, she is far from forgotten.