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Lealaifuaneva Peter E. Reid Jr. leaves a grand legacy to the territory

Lealaifuaneva Peter E. Reid Jr. passed away last weekend. He had just turned 84. He is missed by his family, his village, his aumaga and his friends… [Family courtesy photo]
He is missed by his family, his village, his aumaga, his friends…

 “The legacy that our father has left behind is vast ranging from the business world to the sports world to the fisheries, to the service organizations in which he was a member. To us, his five children, he was our role model and our mentor both professionally and personally,” said Mrs. Olivia Reid-Gillete about the passing of her father, Lealaifuaneva Peter E. Reid Jr., last weekend.

Responding to Samoa News queries from Hawai’i, Reid-Gillete said her father had just turned 84 last week — his birthday was on October 18. He was the son of the late Peter Eugene Reid, Sr. of Pago Pago and Lise Levi of Olosega, Manu’a.

Married to Juliana Pearson Reid since December 5, 2001, her father loved his wife, Juliana, dearly and they shared many special years together, says Reid-Gillete.

Lealaifuaneva had five children with Cecilia P. Scanlan: Lise Marie Reid, Michael Henry Reid, Peter Eugene Reid, III, Rodney Ignatius Reid and Olivia Cecilia Reid-Gillet. He has a total of 10 grandchildren ranging in ages from 31 down to 6 years old. Reid-Gillete is the current President of GHC Reid Inc., one of her father’s companies.

She told Samoa News that when her father retired he left some huge shoes to fill and “even more so now that he has physically left us.”

“He loved his friends and family especially his grandchildren who held a soft spot in his heart,” according to Reid-Gillete, adding they were all truly blessed to call him husband, Dad, Grandpa and Papa.

“He loved life and left no stone unturned!  We miss him sorely, but we're certain that he's catching up with his father in Heaven and is playing a few rounds of golf, pitching a few curve balls, reeling in the big kahuna and winning a few sets of tennis. He was a true gentleman and a class act.”

Reid-Gillete gave a summary bio of her father’s life:

He attended Marist Brothers Elementary and Poyer Junior High in Atu’u in 1940-1943

Moved to Auckland, New Zealand and attended the Sacred Hearts in 1943-1946

Returned to American Samoa and attended Marist Brothers in Atu’u in 1946

Then moved to California where he attended St. Mary’s High School for three years and graduated from high school in 1951

Attended Heald’s Business College in San Francisco, California obtaining a Bachelor’s in Business Administration after only three years

Served in the military from 1953 to 1956

Lealaifuaneva served as treasurer for the GHC Reid Company in 1957, six years later he was made President and that’s when he also ran Peter E. Reid Stevedoring, Inc. with his father, Peter E. Reid, Sr.

In 1973, Lealaifuaneva started Pago Petroleum Products, Inc.

In 1974, he established the Polynesia Shipping Services, Inc. with Polynesia Line, Ltd.

In 1978, he also helped found the Amerika Samoa Bank, which is now the ANZ- Amerika Samoa Bank — he served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of ASB for 16 years

In 1971 he was bestowed the title of Lealaifuaneva, Tei of Ma’oputasi County.

Lealaifuaneva was Senator for Ma’oputasi for 26 years where he served in various positions, such as Chairman of the Economic Development Board, and Retirement Board, as well as Vice Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and was a member of the Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Public Works Committee.

He also served on the Tax Exemption Board and Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and in the early 1970’s Lealaifuaneva, served as Director of the Development Bank under Governor John Haydon.

Reid-Gillete said he also served on the Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Council in the late 80’s/early 90’s and was also a member of the Lions Club for several years.

She told Samoa News that her father loved his church dearly. “His Catholic faith was extremely important to him” and in 1995 he received the Papal award of “Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice” (meaning “For the Church and the Pope).

That same year in December Lealaifuaneva was bestowed his Knighthood title of “Equitem Ordinnis Sancti Gregorii Magni” (meaning “For the Greater Honor and Glory of God”). “No more than 100 people in the world at any one time hold this title which is the highest award possible for a civilian and carries with it the title of “SIR” as well as other privileges.”

Perhaps what Lealaifuaneva is known best for in the territory was his mastery in Samoa’s most beloved sport of fautasi racing. He brought Pago Pago’s “Aeto” — the Eagle — to prominence … and changed the face of the long boat racing with the use of the fiberglass hull — the high-tech boats — as opposed to the heavier wooden hulls. To this day — the ‘eagle spreading its wings in flight’ is a Lealaifuaneva legacy unmatched in the annuals of fautasi racing — both in American Samoa and Samoa.

He started as a rower with the fautasi crew of Pago Pago Aeto under his father’s captaincy, and in 1960 was appointed Captain of the Aeto until he retired in 2000. He lost some races, but no one has forgotten his reign as ‘supreme’ captain of le faigamea i le tai.

Reid-Gillete described her father as an avid sportsman — “his love of sports was unmatched.”  She said he played football and baseball in high school. He also played baseball while serving in the military and then went on to play rugby in college. His team also won championships in cricket leagues with the Pago Pago Aeto and the Futiga Ula Fala teams.

Lealaifuaneva was also an accomplished pitcher with his Pago Pago village team in island leagues; and then there was golf and game fishing — both passions up to the day he passed.

“His victories included winning a prestigious Hawaiian International Bill-fishing Tournament in Kona, Hawai’i in the mid 80’s,” Reid-Gillete said.

Lealaifuaneva was also a member of the local Tennis Team that went to the first South Pacific Games in Fiji in 1963, and from1991-1992 he was President of A.S. National Olympic Committee. “He and Tom Thorpe, the Attorney General at the time, were the first volunteers to offer their services as referees to start the high school football league and trained others to get the league established properly,” she said.

A close friend and fellow senator and chief from Pago — Tuaolo Manaia Fruean told Samoa News, “The village misses him, especially his friends, who kept in contact him, and the aumaga.” He said, “We’re hoping the family will bring him to Pago Pago — even if for one day — so the village & aumaga can pay their respects and tribute to him.”

Tuaolo said of Lealaifuaneva, who was called ‘Leala’ by all who knew him, “He was a humble man – who treated his crew and his friends with respect — we never heard him swear at his crew or anyone.”

“He is missed!” Tuaolo reiterated, and offered his deeply felt condolences to the ‘children & family’ of my ‘dear friend’.

Tuaolo also noted that Lealaifuaneva was the longest serving senator from Pago Pago Village, over 20 years plus.

The Annesley family offers its sincere condolences to the Leala Reid family in the passing of their patriarch, who was a friend of our father. Leala is remembered as a shrewd businessman with a no nonsense approach to success. “We find it sad that in his passing an era of grandeur seems to be closing, leaving many of us with fond memories of ‘the good ole days’ — when establishing ‘firsts’ on island were celebrated by all and benefited all, and living life to the fullest, with good hearts and laughter — knowing God guides our choices and successes — was a given.”

Samoa News understands Lealaifuaneva will be returned home for burial. The family has not publicly released details of his funeral arrangements yet.