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Rev. Uinifareti Rapi Sotoa laid to rest

Designer of the American Samoa flag, the Rev. Uinifareti Rapi Sotoa, was laid to rest Friday afternoon at his home in Fagaalu, after a funeral service at the CCCAS Fagaalu. He passed away on June 8 at the age of 74.

Lt. Gov. Faoa A. Sunia, who is also the acting governor, spoke on behalf of the government. Gov. Togiola Tulafono left Thursday night for Austin, Texas for the final tournament of the IFAF Under 19 football match.

Sotoa worked for many years at the Department of Education - he was a teacher at Leone Elementary School, Samoana High School and Manu’a High School. He served for 10 years in the U.S. Armed Forces. He drew the American Samoa flag design in 1956 at the age of 19.

The territory’s flag was officially approved by the Fono on Apr. 24, 1960. “His creative feat as designer of the American Samoa...flag, may be enough for any individual’s desire for a lifetime legacy...his enthusiasm and excitement for life led him to many other contributions to society and the world,” according to information the family provided in the funeral program.

“Though less visible than the icon that now represents the territory, ask those that he has touched and they will tell you the lifetime of difference he made in their lives,” it says and described Sotoa, a native of Ta’u, Manu’a, as a man of consistent action, often compelling the resistant to reach out to the extended family and give them a helping hand.

“His legacy lives on in the hearts and lives of us all. He will be greatly missed and we hope that he will continue to inspire us all with this charity and compassion for choosing to promote prosperity through unconditional love in our homes, communities, our territory and our world,” according to the family.

Togiola said early this week that Sotoa, “was a wise figure full of compassion and humility. His love for his family, church and the territory endure in the hearts of those whose lives he touched. For this, and for being the father of our local flag, we honor his memory.”