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Travel industry pioneer passes away

Jette Pritchard, a long time resident of the territory and a pioneer in the local travel industry, passed away on Tuesday March 6 at her home in Leone, where she lived next door to her son Jason, his wife Emma and their children, Jette’s grandsons, 7-year old Aidan, and 4-year old Amani, who were her pride and joy. According to Jason, Jette died peacefully in her sleep.

Jette was born in Denmark on September 17, 1943, and came to live here in American Samoa during the ‘60s. She had come to live with her cousin Kirsten Melcher, whose husband was a contractor for the government at the time. She began work here as an “au pair” or nanny for her cousin’s children.

She met Ron Pritchard at a Governor’s Ball one year, said Jason, and in 1966 Jette and Ron traveled to Denmark, where they were married. They returned to live in Fagatogo at Ron Pritchard’s building that same year, and they moved to Leone, where Jason was born, in 1976.

Both Ron and Jette became involved in the local travel industry early on. Ron was the agent for Polynesian Airlines, where he became station manager, while his wife worked in the car rental business. Ron became the agent for Pan Am and Continental Airlines, and the couple then opened Pritchard Travel Agency, upstairs at the Lumana’i Building. Most travel agents on island had, at one time or another, gained experience working for Ron and Jette.

Ron and Jette went on to start Samoa Air with a 707 aircraft serving the Honolulu- Pago Pago route. Later, in 1988, Jette opened J&J World Travel and was involved with its operation even into her semi-retirement, where she worked from home.

She served on the Board of Directors at South Pacific Academy and was a member of the Chamber of Commerce for many years.

Jette is remembered by family and friends as a wonderful cook, and a woman with a sense of style and grace. She was also an avid bridge and mah jong player with a lifelong love of black licorice.

Remembering her auntie, niece Vicky Walker Manila said, “When we went to visit Auntie Jette, she had the most wonderful  treats... goodies her family sent her from Europe... things like French cheeses, Belgian chocolates. She always tried to incorporate her Danish heritage with her Samoan family, said Vicky. “She was a little pixy among a group of giants, but she had a big heart.”

Jason said, “She was my mother, but she was also my mentor and my friend. Her wisdom and advice are the things I will miss. She will be deeply missed.”

Samoa News extends sincere condolences to the family.