The loved and lost in 2017
While death is often referred to as part of the natural order of our lives, it is not an easy event to accept, especially of family members and friends dear to us, 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 2017, the territory saw the passing of Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, and Human and Social Service director, Taeaoafua Dr. Meki Solomona, three former senators, as well as other 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 2017.
Perhaps the most tragic deaths of the year, was on Jan. 14 when three workers were electrocuted at the Manua’s Inc — known as Manu’a Store — compound at the Daniel Inouye Industrial Park, in Tafuna. OHSA has completed its investigation into the industrial incident and the case is not yet closed.
Then on Jan. 24, Western District Governor, Lualemaga Faoa, who was also a former senator and had worked for all three branches of government, passed away at the hospital after a sudden illness. A Paramount Chief from Aasu, Lualemaga was a vocal leader who raised concerns and publicly spoke out on issues, and was always a friend of the media.
On Feb. 22 came word from Provo, Utah, that former Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, American Samoa’s longest serving non-voting Delegate to the U.S House of Representatives, passed at his home in Provo. Faleomavaega “passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and a few close friends,” said Theresa Hunkin, who is Faleomavaega’s sister-in-law.
“The Congressman lived a life of service to his people, to American Samoa, and to the community of the Pacific,” according to the Governor’s Office in a statement.
In early March came another tragic death, when a woman died after being hit by a vehicle in the Pago Pago area. The driver of the car was charged in this case.
And in June, US Army SPC Shaleen Maiava of American Samoa passed away unexpectedly at Fort Meade, Maryland. She was returned home to be remembered and laid to rest. Also in June saw the passing of a beloved female preacher, Rev. Dr. Fa’avaina Tiumalu Tufele Malemo Tilo, who passed away peacefully at LBJ Hospital. She was 85.
The late former Sen. Avegalio Pesamino Aigamaua also passed away in June at the age of 80. He first served in the House of Representatives, representing Fofo County for 12 years, and later served in the Senate from 2004 to 2016 for the same County.
In early August, former Rep. Agaese ‘Ace’ Tago passed away at his home in San Mateo, California. He was elected as a lawmaker for Ituau County in 1976 and prior to that held cabinet posts in government. He was one of the founding board members of McDonald’s Corp. American Samoa and served as ASG Treasurer from 1989 to 1993.
On Oct. 13, former faipule local businessman Galumalemana William Satele, 74, passed away peacefully in Honolulu. He had also served for many years in government. He represented Tualatai District in the House of Representatives.
The following month, former Sen. Salanoa Soli Aumoeualogo passed away at the age of 78. He also held a private legal practice.
In the month of December, Taeoafua Dr. Meki Solomona, director of the Department of Human and Social Services, passed away suddenly on Dec. 12. He was the DHSS director since the Lolo Administration took office in 2013; and was a senior StarKist Samoa executive prior to the director’s post.
Then last week, Eti Sa’aga — who is remembered by many as a broadcaster on radio, poet and entertainer — passed away. He had worked for the late former Congressman Faleomavaega Eni for many years.
Samoa News once again extends our condolences to the families and friends of those who passed away in 2017.