2016 saw the passing of legendary fautasi captain, and the “longest serving” director
While death is often referred to as part of the natural order of our lives, it is not an easy event to accept, especially of family members and friends dear to us, whether they were public figures or otherwise. Each loss is keenly felt and mourned, with the hope that time indeed will heal the wound left by their departure; and the void filled with good memories.
For 2016, the territory saw the passing of three former senators — one of whom was a well-known businessman; the beloved wife of Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga; the government’s longest serving director, as well as other traditional leaders; and, some well known members of our community.
More than a month into 2016 came the sad news that retired prominent former American Samoa businessman, Bill "Tedi" Tedreck passed away peacefully in St. George, Utah on Feb. 13. Tedreck and his wife created "Tedi of Samoa", built Fagatogo Square and the Nu’uuli Place Shopping Center, ran the Country Club at the golf course, and were active in American Samoa politics.
The following month, traditional leader, military retiree and former senator Tuilefano Maloata Vaela’a, who was once called by both his friends and foes as “fearless” for taking a sitting governor to court several years ago over an amnesty program — as well as calling on another governor to “fire” some government officials — passed away in Phoenix, Arizona, on Mar. 14.
In mid May, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga made an official announcement, about the passing of Aleki Sene Sr., who was a “true public servant icon” and the father of telecommunications for the territory. Sene, the government’s longest serving director, first headed the Office of Communications, which was later re-named the American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority. In total Sene served so many governors, both appointed and elected. The ASTCA building in Tafuna is named after the iconic director.
In late June, the governor made another sad announcement — Lemanu’s wife, Pohakalani — known as ‘Poha’ to many who knew her — passed away in Honolulu. Born in Hawai’i, Mrs. Mauga was an educator and in the last three years of her life would volunteer as a teacher at the Juvenile Detention Center.
She was also an active member of the Cancer Survivors Coalition, and was a cancer survivor herself. Mrs. Mauga taught at Samoana High School and later became its vice principal. She gave up the post at Samoana when Lemanu became lieutenant governor.
In mid October, two former senators passed away.
On Oct. 15, Velega Savali Jr., who is also a former ASG Treasurer, former chief election officer and a Vietnam veteran passed away. Velega was known for his bravery and outspokenness — speaking with “few words” when criticizing government leaders head on.
A few days later, Lealaifuaneva Peter E. Reid Jr., a well-known highly successful businessman, who served in various aspects of the community, as well as in the government and non-profit groups, passed away in Honolulu, Hawai’i.
His role as the captain of the Pago Pago Aeto fautasi is legendary — many believing he brought the sport back into the limelight in the Territory; making “faigamea ile tai” an annual event celebrating American Samoa’s Flag Day.
Lolo said Leala’s “modesty and his refusal of public recognition for the good he did for the people of American Samoa entitled him to be called ‘American Samoa’s Silent Hero’.” Additionally, Leala “was a true patriarch of the people of American Samoa; a distinction born out of the good that he did which positively influenced and transformed many lives. His benevolence was pervasive and did not discriminate.”
For 2016, Samoa News records show no reports of deaths of any of our Toa o Samoa as they are deployed around the world.
Samoa News did report on two heart breaking incidents on island: Two separate cases of toddlers who died after allegedly being run over by vehicles, driven by a family member. The first incident occurred in August and the second in October.
Other deaths reported by Samoa News this year:
• In September, an inmate passed away, and last month, a man died after being hit by the back section of a trailer truck.
• Oct. 30 — a native of American Samoa, Jacobsen L. Laumoli, was fatally shot in Independence, Missouri. He was the late son of former deputy police commissioner Leiseau V. Laumoli.
• Nov. 28 - Lawrence A. Broquet passed away in Illinois. He was among the first group of teachers from the US hired in 1964 to participate in the federal government-sponsored program to bring English and education to American Samoa via televised lessons.
Samoa News once again expresses our sincere condolences to all the families who lost their loved ones in 2016.