DOC head Faleseu Paopao passes away in Portland

In this undated photo from Samoa News photo archives is the late Commerce Department director, Faleseu Eliu Paopao.

Commerce Department director Faleseu Eliu Faresa Paopao passed away in Portland, Oregon over the weekend, after being diagnosed last year with cancer. He was 66 years old, according to a relative.

“Director Faleseu was a strong advocate for the community in ensuring that the mission of the department always put the people and Territory first in our focus,” DOC deputy director Lelei Peau told Samoa News yesterday. “He was a great leader and always wanted the best for the department and territory.”

Lelei, who has been DOC acting director while Faleseu was off-island said, “He was an insightful leader, a humble and very dedicated person with a strong conviction on what is best for the people of American Samoa. My condolences go out to his wife Telesia and children during this difficult time.”

Samoa News understands that Gov. Togiola Tulafono is aware of Faleseu’s passing and an official statement is expected to be released soon.

Faleseu has been DOC director since the beginning of 2005, following the 2004 general election when Togiola was elected to his first term as governor. Faleseu also served as chairman of the Commerce Commission — the ASG entity charged with regulating buses and taxis — during his tenure as DOC director.

Faleseu came out in strong support during Fono hearings of a Fono bill to ban the importation and distribution of plastic bags. He urged lawmakers in 2010 to approve this measure because he believed it would benefit future generations of the territory thru the protection of the environment.

Prior to serving as DOC director, he served briefly as program coordinator with the Territorial Emergency Management Coordinating Office (TEMCO). He had also served as director of the Department of Administrative Service from 1997 to 2000 during the first term of the Tauese Administration. He was reappointed to the same post in January 2001, only to be rejected three months later by the Fono. Faleseu had also served as the High Court administrator and also as an administrator at LBJ Medical Center.

Funeral services are pending and the family will make an official announcement at a later time. He is survived by wife Telesia and five children.

Samoa News extends our condolences to the family in their time of grief.


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