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Tina Drabble, American Samoa gold medalist passes away

Writing from Phoenix, Arizona, local businessman and community leader Tom Drabble shared the sad news via email with family and friends, “Following a 6-year battle with melanoma, our beautiful daughter Tina has passed away”.

It was in the early hours of July 9 that Christine Michelle Drabble-McCormack lost her battle with cancer, a melanoma that a few years ago threatened to take her foot, and eventually took her life.

She was simply “Tina” to her family and friends, the daughter and eldest child of Tom Drabble and Chande Lutu-Drabble, a daughter of American Samoa from the village of Pago Pago, also a businesswoman, sports enthusiast and community supporter in her own right.

Tina was 41 in May this year.

The family was with Tina at the Mayo Clinic Sherman Hospice in Phoenix, Arizona, where Tina and her mother, Chande, moved a year ago, so that Tina could be treated at the world renowned Mayo Cancer Clinic. Throughout that time, her mother has been her full time caregiver and patient advocate, accompanying her through the rounds of chemo treatments, surgeries and endless doctor visits which promised hope for Tina.

She passed away peacefully and was surrounded by the people she loved; her Dad Tom, her mother Chande, brother TJ and his wife Kori, sister Tiara, God-mother Sina Newton and her best friend Sandra King Young.

According to the family, a memorial service will be held at Desert Hills Mortuary and Memorial Park in Scottsdale, Arizona at 3:00pm on Thursday July 12, with open casket viewing from 2:00- 3:00 pm. Family and friends will then retire to her favorite neighborhood spot “The Grill” to share Tina stories and jokes.

A celebration of her life will be held in American Samoa, to be announced at a later date. Via email her father said, “Chande and I would like to thank everyone for the prayers and well-wishes extended to Tina over these many months.

Tina is well known in the territory for her achievements in golf culminating with her individual gold medal performance while representing the territory in 2007 at the South Pacific Games.

Tina began her golf career at the age of nine and her Uncle Fuga Tolani Teleso was her first teacher. Before she was 10, she participated in the Junior World Golf Championship in San Diego.

She came first in the world in the 10 and under, 11-12, and 13-14 age groups in the Junior World Championship. She also placed third in the world in the 15-17 age group.

While she was attending high school in Maui, at Seabury Hall, she participated in the Fiji Ladies' Open in Suva and won three years in a row: 1989, 1990 & 1991.

Each year that she won the Fiji Ladies' Open, she went on to play in the Fiji Ladies' Classic at the Pacific Harbour in Deuba and won three years in a row.

Before she turned Pro, she participated in the US Women's Amateur Championship that was held at the Quail Lodge in Monterey, California. She came in second, being defeated by Natalie Culbris who is now one of the top women golfers in the LPGA.

After graduating from college, Tina turned Pro and for six years she played in the Ladies' Challenge, which she won in 1993.

She represented American Samoa at the Cook Island South Pacific Mini Games in 1985 and was a member of the gold medal team. In 1987 her team again won gold at the South Pacific Games in New Caledonia and Tina took individual silver.

It was 2007 in Samoa when she took individual gold at the games.

She was born in American Samoa on May 30, 1971 and attended elementary school at South Pacific Academy. She graduated from high school at Seabury Hall on Maui, Hawaii and obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting and marketing from New Mexico State University.

Tina is remembered by all as a warm and fun loving person, with a dazzling smile and a razor sharp wit. She loved people and she loved life, she approached everything, even her misfortunes with great humor and a sunny heart, according to family and friends.

Samoa News extends to the family our sincere condolences at this time.

Click to link to New Mexco State University Sports tribute to Tina