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Geri ("K") Keolanui


1940 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Geri ("K") Keolanui Obituary
March 7, 1940 - March 1, 2017 Known as "Mrs K" by LA's children, rich and poor and of every ethnicity, who were involuntarily uprooted from their schools and sequestered from friends and relatives to accompany their Mother seeking shelter at Haven Hills Domestic Violence Shelter in Canoga Park, in order to escape an abusive environment at home. Geri became their substitute teacher, surrogate mother, cheerleader and best friend while teaching all disciplines from K to 12 grades in a cramp, makeshift "one-room schoolhouse" at the Shelter, made possible primarily from private donations. To assure continuity with their currently schooling, she contacted their teachers, borrowed books and scrounged for supplies. She taught them poetry and art, some for the first time, to take their minds off the abuse, not only inflicted on their Mother by her batterer, but often on themselves too. For a period of over twenty years, she passionately nurtured and cared for an estimated 2,000 students, while fighting cancer for most of the time. In April, 1999, Geri was recognized for her work by KNBC Los Angeles, when they awarded her their coveted "Crystal Apple Award for Teaching Excellence". Geri (Lind) was born in Upper State New York, raised and worked on a truck farm, graduated from Clyde High School and from Cortland State University to earn a teacher's degree. She first taught at Ocean View in Huntington Beach, where she met and married a naval officer, Gus Keolanui. She quit teaching to be a full-time Mother to first born, Dawn and then Craig, while her husband was on long deployments to Asia including Vietnam. Her love and experience with fresh foods on the farm; dining in Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe and U.S.; collecting hundreds of cook books and recipes from renown chefs; and enrolling in cooking schools, including one in Thailand; made it an honor to dine at her table. She kept in touch with teaching as an occasional substitute, aide and member of PTA; donated and worked for charities, including Beta Sigma Phi and Shepherd of the Hills Church, Porter Hills; but her true desire was to return to teaching. She got the opportunity, when she accepted an offer to teach at Haven Hills and despite token pay, daily emotional stress, limited resources and long hours, she never once thought about quitting until she retired in 2006. She was honored in 2005 by the California State Assembly for making a big difference during the first 20 years of teaching at Haven Hills. Geri passed away at home after a 26-year battle with cancer. She is survived by her husband, Gus; children: Dawn (Wayne) and Craig (Raquel); grand children: Scarlet and Matt Keolanui and Max and Sam Kader; and siblings: Marian Mann, Alma and Paul Lind. A Memorial Service is scheduled for Oakwood Chapel, Chatsworth at 10:00AM on Saturday, March 11. No flowers please,smart casual dress OK and donations optional, but if made, should be to Haven Hills.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Mar. 5, 2017
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