Christine Hoerl’s legacy of caring continues in West Maui
WEST MAUI – Christine Hoerl, a Lahaina resident for nearly six decades, died last year at the age of 90.
The owner and operator of her West Maui resort laundry service, many will remember Hoerl as the “Laundry Lady with all the cats.”
Hoerl was a wonderful asset to Lahaina, always helping animals and humans in need. Carrying on the good community work and legacy of Hoerl is her tenant, Tania Friese.
“Those who knew Christine knew that she worked to serve West Maui until the day she died, with Tania’s loyal support during her final months and beyond” said Curtis Izuno of the Kaanapali Alii Resort.
“Christine was always helping others in Lahaina and demonstrated this on a daily basis by supporting Maui’s homeless human and animal population in Lahaina for decades. Ironically, perhaps this is why God blessed Christine with her tenant, Tania Friese, as someone of the same higher awareness who would selflessly care for all her needs until she took her last breath at home on Fleming Road.”
“I was just a tenant living in the ‘ohana in Christine’s backyard until one day, when returning home, I noticed Christine trying to unload heavy bags of linen out of her van by herself. Christine repaired hotel linens and did laundry for Kaanapali Alii Resort at her home. She suffered from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and was struggling,” said Friese.
“I started checking on her regularly and discovered she needed help with everything in her daily life. She could no longer drive, lift or carry heavy loads, or really even cook for herself. She had a hard time with stairs and would get dehydrated from working all day in the Lahaina heat in Wahikuli,” she continued.
“One day, I came home from a weekend trip, and she had not eaten in two days. Alarmed, I started to perform some basic first aid tests to check her vitals. Her mind was sharp but her body was weak. I asked her where her family was… At that point, I realized I was the only one she had helping her. I started making her a meal three times a day, doing her errands, helping her with her business, taking care of all of her cats, driving her to the doctor, etc. etc. I did everything you would do for an 89-year-old woman in need of daily assistance, attempting to sustain herself with life’s responsibilities. Through it all, I came to care a great deal about her, and felt it was an honor to be able to assist this woman.”
Hoerl eventually broke her hip, requiring more medical care than Friese could provide. Hoerl’s family was unavailable to offer assistance on any level. So, she contacted Hoerl’s closest friends, who offered advice and emotional support when it was necessary to involve the hospital to schedule surgeries.
Hoerl clearly needed special care, and it was Friese who started feeding and helping her in her personal life.
“Tania quit her job to help Christine financially support herself by learning the basic responsibilities in her hotel laundry company. People were in awe as we all watched Tania step selflessly in to help this elderly woman,” said Izuno.
“I am a trained professional,” said Friese, “and helping Christine was the socially responsible thing to do. I feel that anyone with a healthy mind and heart would have done the same for this wonderful woman.”
Hoerl’s friends describe her as “a true gem to the community,” according to Victor and Mary Bellarosa of Light Bringers Mission, Lahaina.
“I thank God I knew Christine, as she left a standing legacy in the hearts of many as a very giving, softhearted woman,” Victor added.
She deserved a dignified, respectful closure to her life from those who truly cared about her. This included Hoerl’s beloved cat family (who meant the world to her); her closest friends, Pat and Joe Losberg, owners of Mind’s Eye Interiors in Lahaina; Ana Leise of Wailuku (and now Kauai); Robbie Wares of Lahaina; her tenant, Friese; and many others held dear to Hoerl’s heart in the Lahaina community.
“Maui is so fortunate to have Tania Friese helping our community with a background in social work, selflessly serving our people and animals,” said Pat.
“Her educational abilities of raising conscious awareness regarding Malama Pono, the proper treatment of elderly humans and animals, has already had a huge, positive impact in our small island community” shared Leise.
“Christine’s final wish was that Tania care for her kitty ‘ohana, and Tania has kept her word at her own expense, inclusive of food and vet bills. Now, in the face of a recent pending sale and possible move from Christine’s home as a tenant, Tania has successfully arranged for the relocation of all of Christine’s cats to a sanctuary Upcountry, and is having a cat house built compliments of Deiter and Devonne Lane of Puunoa, Lahaina.”
Friese runs a small business called Mo Bettah Pet Care and has served the community of Maui by assisting animals in need, including Hoerl’s 30 cats that were left behind when she died.
Presently, Lahaina friends of Hoerl and Friese are asking all Lahaina landlords to seize a great opportunity to practice aloha. Friese needs a home where pets are allowed, because she is being asked to vacate her present home by June 2015. If anybody is willing to assist short- or long-term as her new landlord, call her a 633-5726.