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Long time resident, Steve Watson passes away

Leilua Stevenson and Steven Watso
Source: Governor's Office

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — “It is with heartfelt sadness and the unenviable burden to announce the passing of my Chief Legal Counsel Steven Hammond Watson this morning at 5:30 a.m. at the LBJ Tropical Medical Center,” Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga announced yesterday late afternoon in a media release.

“The Governor's Office and the Executive Branch has lost a consummate public servant whose wisdom, prudence, astuteness, and judicious judgment kept the Lolo-Lemanu Administration and other administrations he served on an even keel,” he noted.

Steven H. Watson known to everyone as "Steve" first entered the Territory of American Samoa on June of 1978 on contract to the Office of the Attorney General assuming the position of Assistant Attorney General providing legal counsel to the Territorial Planning Commission, the Environmental Quality Commission, issues involving petroleum suppliers through liaison with the U.S. Department of Energy, American Samoa Government dealings with Chicken of the Sea, H.J. Heinz Starkist, tax, malpractice, medical, legislative and civil issues.

After his tenure at the Attorney General's, Office, which ended in 1980, he entered general private law practice starting in January of 1981 with a selected clientele which included the Amerika Samoa Bank, the American Samoa Power Authority, National Pacific Insurance Ltd, and American Samoa Contractors' Association.

On January of 1985 Steve was appointed as the Chief of Staff under the A.P. Lutali Administration and he served in this capacity until December 1987 when he returned to his private law practice, again providing services to a limited clientele, which included the Development Bank of American Samoa, the American Samoa Government Employees Retirement Fund, the New Zealand Export Guaranty Office, and McConnell Dowell Ltd.

On July 1993 Steve started his banking career when he was selected as the Vice President and Chief Lending Officer for the Amerika Samoa Bank. In 1996 he became the Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer. In 1999, Steve moved up to be the Senior Vice President and Branch Manager for the Tafuna Branch. In April 2003 he was made the Manager of Commercial Business and Lending for new owner ANZ-Amerika Samoa Bank. In 2006 Steve was again promoted to Manager of Consumer Lending and Credit Administration. In March of 2009 Steve was made Head of Retail within the ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank. Steve was elevated to the position of Acting Manager of Risk on September of 2009. Finally, on January 2011 he was placed as the Manager, Asset Management Unit of the ANZ Guam Inc. which the successor entity to ANZ America Samoa until he ended his banking tenure when he accepted Gov. Lolo’s invitation to serve as the Governor’s Office Chief Legal Counsel in 2013.

Steve ended his illustrious career serving Gov. Lolo and Lt. Gov. Lemanu’s chief legal counsel wherein he served with distinction and dedication. “Steve has been a great asset to the Administration and he will be sorely missed. Steve was uncompromising in the discharge of his duties and fearless in letting Lemanu and I know when the legality of issues or the decisions appeared questionable,” the governor said. Steve has served the people of American Samoa with honor and with great compassion for he made American Samoa his home and embraced us as his people.

He entered our lives in 1978 and he lived among us for 41 years.

“On behalf of Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga and his family, along with Cynthia Malala Moliga and our family, we extend on behalf of the Government and the people of American Samoa our deepest condolences to Steve’s wife, Debra Willis Watson, children and family over the passing of Steven H. Watson.

We pray that God will ease your pain through His mercy and kindness,” the governor concluded.

The Annesley family, and Samoa News management and staff express their sincerest condolences to Steve’s family — he was a friend.