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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (August 2, 2002 - Samoa News)---Former Governor and well-respected territorial leader A.P. Lutali passed away early yesterday morning at LBJ Medical Center. He was 82 years old. Governor Lutali had 10 children, 36 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

His daughter Josie Lutali said yesterday that her father "passed away peacefully at 3:15 am surrounded by our mother, Susana, children and family members."

He was admitted to the hospital on Monday suffering from a mild stroke.

Governor Tauese Sunia was notified of the passing of Lutali and arrived at the hospital with his wife, Fagaoalii, 15 minutes later.

Lutali served two separate four-year terms as Governor, first in 1984-1988 and again in 1992-1996. He also served as the Territory’s Delegate to Washington D.C. from 1975 to 1977.

"It is with deepest sorrow that I acknowledge the passing of a most noble statesman and leader of the Territory," said Governor Tauese Sunia about the passing of Lutali in a general memorandum issued late yesterday morning.

"In his honor and in remembrance of the passing of this great leader of ours," Tauese directed that all flags in the territory be flown at half mast beginning at 12 noon yesterday and continuing until his burial.

"On behalf of the citizens of American Samoa, I extend our sincerest condolences to Mrs. Susana Lutali and children and the Lutali family," the governor concluded.

Tauese was Lieutenant Governor during Lutali’s second term in office. During Lutali’s first term, Tauese was the Director of Education.

At the beginning of yesterday’s luncheon meeting hosted by the Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Rotary Club, keynote speaker David B. Cohen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior for Insular Affairs, called for a moment of silence to observe the passing of Lutali.

During last night’s dinner hosted by the Governor and attended by his cabinet, Cohen also spoke of the former governor, acknowledging "this very sad day in American Samoa because we have lost a very great man in the history of this territory, someone who was the mentor of so many great and talented people," Cohen said.

When Cohen toured the hospital on Wednesday he was able to see Lutali, "although he was not conscious, but I was able to greet his wife."

Cohen said that it was "good to be able to be" with Lutali for a brief period of time.

"The people of American Samoa will miss this great man, very much," he added and called for a moment of silence paying tribute to Lutali.

Acting Senate President Pro Temp, Senator S.E. Sala called Lutali’s passing sad news for American Samoa.

"Lutali was an elder statesman of American Samoa. He was a pragmatic leader. He and former Governor Coleman are among the two giants of politics in American Samoa," said Senator Sala in a telephone interview.

"American Samoa will surely miss him, as well as the Pacific region. He was a great leader and a fighter for American Samoa," he added.

On behalf of the Senate membership he offered condolence to Mrs. Lutali and the family.

Former director of the Office of Public Information (KVZK-TV), Leo’o Va’a Ma’o remembers Lutali as the person instrumental in getting a live satellite feed for American Samoa.

Leo’o, now Secretary of the Senate, said this allowed local residents to watch up-to-date news from around the world instead of tape delayed news that was recorded in Honolulu and flown here for re-broadcast -- usually a week or so later.

Leo’o said discussion was raised with Lutali about this need, which was supported. A measure seeking funding for the satellite dish, located behind the TV station in Utulei, was passed by the Fono.

Arrangements to carry the feed were made with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Network after negotiations between ASG and CNN. The satellite dish was dedicated by Lutali on March 9, 1987.

Samoa News archives say the first live CNN broadcast was at 9 am that day.

"He is the best chief executive officer, that I have ever served," said Leo’o.

The Samoa News continued to receive tributes to Lutali throughout the day yesterday and we expect statements to be issued soon by other American Samoa dignitaries, including a statement from Congressman Eni Faleomavaega who was the Lieutenant Governor during Lutali’s first term in office.


Lutali spent his life serving the public, not only in the political arena but also in the community.

His service in education goes back many years ago, to when he was a teacher at elementary and junior high school level, following which he was vice principal of Ta’u Jr. High and Poyer Jr. High.

He is one of the three co-founders of the first high school, Samoana High School, in 1946, where he was also an instructor.

He was head supervisor of the Public School System in 1950 and four years later was director of the Teacher’s Training Institute. He was chairman of the first American Samoa Board of Higher Education.

He served on four educational boards: Education Policy Board, Educational Curriculum Committee, Samoan Culture Curriculum Committee and Teacher’s Credit Union. He was chairman of the Educational Curriculum Committee.

In his political career, Lutali served in the House and in 1956 was the Speaker. He later served in the Senate from 1988 to 1992 and 1996 to 2000.

Other political accomplishments include being Vice Chair of the First Constitutional Drafting Committee and Chairman of the Second Constitutional Drafting Committee. Later he headed the Constitutional Convention. He also serviced as Chairman of the Third Constitutional Drafting Committee and Vice Chair of the Third Constitutional Convention.

Lutali served on several government appointed boards, including serving as Vice President of the American Samoa Development Corporation.

Lutali also served in the judicial system, starting in 1947 as the first legal practitioner (non-lawyer) admitted to practice before the High Court of American Samoa.

He was an Associate Judge in 1971; first Samoan Chief Judge of the Lands and Title Court in 1972; co-author, Samoan Chieftal System and the Law; and founder of the American Samoa Bar Association in 1972.

On the federal level, he was in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and also was appointed by former President Lyndon Johnson to civil defense and post master positions.

Lutali served in various capacities in the community, including being a church deacon, founder of the American Samoa Democratic Party, operator of a small business and farmer.

He was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, past President of the American Samoa Lions Club and a member of the Veterans Association of American Samoa.

He is also the founder and Treasurer of the American Samoa Party for the Preservation of the Samoan Culture.

Funeral arrangements will be announced by the family in the near future.

Items from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

For additional reports from the Samoa News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa News.

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Hello. In the Oregon obituary of George P. Lokan (1926-1986), a family friend of my parents, it says George served as a special adviser to Gov. Lutali but gives no other information. Can you confirm this for me, that he did? Thanks very much.

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