Leilani Lee Gilfoy - RIP


Leilani was my Hawaii Branch Manager for Empress Pearls in the ’70s. When I called Lei in 1981 and told her that I had sold Empress Pearls and want to move to Hawaii, she instantly invited me to stay with her and her husband Ross until I got settled. They met me when I arrived, and immediately began “Hawaiianizing” me with trips around the island visiting all of the special beaches and places.

Her wonderful family, Ross, David (RIP), Honey Girl, Reno, Remi, Caron and Zena all became family to me. Lei had two other sons that were adopted out, Bernie and Jose that I never met. 

I spent many evenings listening to Leilani’s golden voice, playing her ukulele as Remi sang along while Honey Girl and Caron danced hula. 


Leilani’s brother was the famous Hawaiian entertainer Kui Lee who wrote many of Don Ho’s classic songs as well as a few for Elvis Presley, such as this one:


Kui performed until he lost his fight with cancer at a very young age.

When Ross emailed me with the news that Lei had passed away, I sat at my computer with tears in my eyes. They are returning again now as I write and edit this. Her funeral will be on September 23 and we will spread her ashes off of the shore of Waikiki. I expect quite a crowd to be there with more than a few celebrities joining in. I will post a blog about that event when it happens. 

4 Responses to “Leilani Lee Gilfoy - RIP”

  1. Mark Hanna Says:

    How very sad. She sounds like a lovely and kind woman. It’s always hard to lose a loved one and especially those we have such fond memories with.

  2. Helen wagner Says:

    Miss the old timers. Lost Eddie Kamai this year.

  3. Kaiolani Abellira Says:

    Mahalo for remembering my beloved friend and mother in law. I thank God for her everyday since her passing. But it’s such a joy to know her Aloha lives on. Mahalo Plenty she spoke and remembered you well.

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