2018: Remembering those that made our lives that much better
Pago Pago, AMERICA SAMOA — While death is often referred to as part of the natural order of our lives, it is not an easy event to accept, especially by family members and friends, whether they were public figures or otherwise. Each loss is keenly felt and mourned, with the hope that time will heal the wound left by their departure; and the void filled with good memories.
For 2018, the territory saw the passing of Sen. Galeai Moali’itele Tu’ufuli, three cabinet members including Utu Abe Malae, traditional leaders, and some well known members of our community.
Here’s a look at some of the stories regarding the passing of our loved ones as reported by Samoa News in 2018.
The first week of 2018 brought the sad news that well-known American Samoan church minister Rev. Elder Siaosi Mageo passed away Jan. 5th. At the time of his passing he had spent 53 years as the pastor of Calvary Temple in Lepuapua.
Then on Jan. 28th, the Sword family confirmed the passing in Hawai’i of Juliette Caroline Sword, the first Miss South Pacific (1987), who was also Miss American Samoa at the time. The regional pageant’s name was later changed to Miss Pacific Islands.
On Apr. 11th, William Henry Reardon passed away at LBJ Medical Center. He was a proud and active member of the American Samoa Bar Association as well as the community for over 50 years.
The following month on May 11th, American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority chief executive officer Pulelei’ite Li’amatua Tufele Jr. passed away at the LBJ Hospital.
“The ill-fated and ill-timed passing of the CEO has struck a huge blow to the leadership mantle of one of our most vital authorities charged with the responsibility of improving seamless connectivity with the outside world, especially strengthening ties with our families residing outside of American Samoa,” said a statement from the Governor’s Office at the time.
In June, many in the community vented their anger over what they called a “shocking” death, when a student from Pavaiai Elementary School died after drowning at the Pala Lagoon Swimming Pool.
The female student, who was days away from her 8th grade graduation, was at the swimming pool with fellow students accompanied by teachers for a school outing. However, there were many questions as to why there were no lifeguards and no teachers around the pool when the incident happened.
In early July, Samoa News reported on a story out of Washington state, where two adults and one child — all members of a Samoan family — were killed in a traffic accident. The child, and grandparents, were identified as Oferia Nuusolia, 60, and Lokeni Nuusolia, 65. They died at the scene, according to news outlets in Kalama, Washington, while other family members in the vehicle were injured.
Then on July 31st, George Henry Charles Reid, a well known member of the local community, owner of the iconic local Shoe Tree, passed away after a prolonged illness at Clovis Community Medical Center in Clovis, California.
The following month on Aug. 7th, an employee of Port Administration in Ofu, Manu’a died after the office’s vehicle he was driving, ran off the Ofu-Olosega bridge and into the sea. The tragic incident prompted a call by the governor for the Department of Public Works to contact the US Federal Highway Administration to review and assess the bridge, because this is the second incident this year that has occurred on this bridge-road.
More than a week later, on Aug. 12th, American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency director, Ameko Pato passed away at the LBJ hospital. Pato “was passionate about his job and cared deeply for the American Samoa community he served. This was evident in all the things he did, whether it was advocating for AS-EPA programs before government leaders, conducting enforcement, carrying out community service projects, or raising awareness of environmental issues in the territory,” according to an AS-EPA statement at the time.
On Oct. 2nd, American Samoa Power Authority executive director, Utu Abe Malae — who was also chairman of the Territorial Bank of American Samoa board — passed away at LBJ Hospital. Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga described Utu’s passing as a “huge loss for American Samoa”.
Lolo noted that Utu’ leadership and ingenuity touched and improved the lives of so many people; while Congresswoman Aumua Amata described Utu as a “superb man of decency and honor, and a highly respected and trusted public servant in American Samoa.”
Then, on Oct. 24th, veteran politician, traditional leader and senator, Paramount Chief Galea’i M. Tu’ufuli passed away at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward, California.
Lolo said Galea’i was “American Samoa’s true statesman and an influential cultural, professional, and political leader.” Amata described Galea’i as “an effective decision-maker and a confident leader in our Territory.”
Samoa News once again extends our condolences to the families and friends of all of those who passed away in 2018.