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Lahaina graduate plans to honor great-grandmother who died in August fire

By A’ali’i Dukelow

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    MAUI COUNTY, Hawai’i (KITV) — As graduation season approaches, one Lahaina family says this year’s ceremony will be bittersweet as they continue to mourn one of their family members they wished could attend the commencement.

Louise Abihai was born and raised in Lahaina, and as 97-years-old when she lost her life to the August fire.

“I didn’t realize you don’t have time. I didn’t have time to think of my grandma being gone,” Raenelle Stewart, Abihai’s granddaughter, said.

Loved ones considered Abihai the matriarch of her family and said she always made it to her family members’ graduations.

“That’s kind of what makes me the saddest, is not being able to see her face at my graduation,” said Chamille Balderas, who is Abihai’s great-granddaughter and Stewart’s daughter.

Even though Abihai will not be at the commencement ceremony, her family members still reserved a seat for her.

“Just keep it open for her, hoping she’ll be there in spirit,” Stewart said.

Island News reached out to the Dept. of Education for a comment on the matter. We will include their response in this post.

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