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FULL STORY: Flag's designer laid to rest this week

Gov. Togiola Tulafono has ordered the use of the Territorial flag during funeral services this week for the late Rev. Uinifareti Rapi Sotoa, who designed the American Samoa flag. Sotoa was 74 years old at the time of his death.

According to a family funeral announcement, Sotoa passed away peacefully on June 8 this year.

“In respectful remembrance of Rev. Uinifareti Rapi Sotoa, the man who designed American Samoa’s flag,” the governor in a memorandum dated Monday, July 2nd, ordered that the Territorial flag is to be used for the late reverend's funeral services.

“As the man who created the local banner which flies over our Tutuila and Manu’a, this order is highly appropriate,” the governor stated.

“Reverend Fareti — as he was known to friends, 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,” Togiola said. “For this, and for being the father of our local flag, we honor his memory.”

ASG archive records state that on “Apr. 24, 1960, the American Samoa flag, designed by Sotoa Uinifareti... was officially approved by the Legislature of American Samoa.”

In his April 2010 Flag Day address, Togiola pointed out it was 50 years ago that the American Samoa flag containing an outward “V” design with the American bald eagle holding the traditional Samoan “fue” and “uatogi” was introduced by the first governor of Samoan descent, Peter Tali Coleman.

“The flag was the vision of a 19-year old student who is now a pastor and a teacher, and will retire at the end of the school year after 30 years at the Department of Education — Uinifareti Sotoa of Manu’a,” he said at the time. “Our flag highlights our cultural dedication to serving others, be it war or oratory, thus the ‘uatogi’ and the ‘fue’.”

A family service was held 5 p.m. yesterday at the LBJ Medical Center chapel. At 8:30 a.m. tomorrow (Friday), a short prayer service will be held at the LBJ chapel, followed by a 9 a.m. church service at the Congressional Christian Church in Fagaalu.

This will be followed by a final funeral service, with his remains transported to his home at Masina II, in Fagaalu, for viewing. Burial service at his home follows thereafter, according to the announcement.

Samoa News expresses our condolence to the grieving family.