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Honoring the late Taeaoafua

[photo: FS]

At yesterday’s last cabinet meeting of the year, held at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium, a name plate, along with an empty chair draped with a white ginger lei, and a Christmas decoration was seen honoring the late Department of Human and Social Service director, Taeaoafua Dr. Meki Solomona, who passed away suddenly on Monday.

Taeaoafua, a veteran educator, former school principal, and a director in two administrations was remembered at yesterday’s cabinet meeting, with the DHSS choir singing a Samoan hymn in remembrance of their director.

At the start of the cabinet meeting, there was a moment of silence, in accordance with the governor’s wishes, as a cloud of sadness hovered over the meeting, and at the same time, the administration looked forward to Christmas.

Several directors who spoke at the three-hour meeting remembered Taeaoafua, who was a radio personality years ago, and served as master of ceremonies in past events.

American Samoa Community College president Rosevonne Pato recalled the time when the college was placed on “show cause” by the accreditation commission of community colleges in the country.

Pato says Taeaoafua, a long time educator, was the first to call her to offer his help in any way to assist the college in addressing issues raised by the accreditation commission.

Education director Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga remembered fondly and with tears in her eyes, the morning of Dec. 11, Monday, when she along with others as well as the DHSS director and the DHSS choir visited Hope House, as part of the administration’s annual Holiday visit. It was at Hope House that Taeaoafua mentioned that the DHSS choir is the official ASG choir.

Territorial Administration on Aging director Evelyn Lili’o-Satele also remembered seeing Taeaoafua that morning at Hope House and singing along with the DHSS choir. She commented on his beautiful voice.

And then… by Monday afternoon, the news went out that Taeaoafua had passed away.

DHSS deputy director Muavaefa’atasi John Suisala said many cabinet members attended a prayer service at LBJ chapel that Monday afternoon for Taeoafua.

Early Tuesday morning, Lt. Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga paid a visit to the DHSS staff in a gather-around meeting. Muavaefa’atasi said the Lemanu visit was very important to the staff as each of them has his or her own way of grieving. 

Muavaefa’atasi said Lemanu’s visit also helped the DHSS choir — or the official ASG choir — to prepare that morning to sing during the Lolo Administration’s visit to patients at LBJ and inmates at the Territorial Correctional Facility.

Besides the many years serving in government, Taeoafua also worked in the private sector as a senior official at StarKist Samoa.

Commerce Department director Keniseli Lafaele said Taeaoafua’s life of service to American Samoa in the past years, can serve as a challenge for the government in these last three years of the Lolo Administration in office.