Former Member of Parliament and former Deputy Speaker of the House for Samoa, Tuilagi Namulauulu Vavae Leo II has passed away, leaving an impactful legacy of a family who have put Samoa on the map in more ways than one.
His eldest son, Lauaki Fereti “Freddie” Tuilagi, writes a touching tribute to his father ….
Born 2 November 1945, in Tuasivi, he was always an intellect. His intelligence took him to Australia and Fiji before securing a role as Deputy Registrar with Samoa’s Land and Titles Court, a role he lived and served for 15 years.
My dad showed great commitment to his family when in 1986, he sold his house and land and left his good job to move to Fatausi, Savaii and serve his family as high chief Tuilagi.
He lived in Fatausi, fulfilling his role as village chief until his final moments. He has a God-given gift as one of the best orators and talking chiefs in the country. I am so proud of him for his commitment not only to his village but to his Itumalo and his country.
As the high chief, he selflessly showed undeterred fairness to all. He lived his life to the fullest, right down to his last moments.
He was advised by his doctors 7 years ago to stop drinking his favourite drinks; Vailima & Whiskey. However, he died on his own terms, sitting peacefully on his veranda with a bottle of Vailima and his dog by his side, overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
His love, our mother, Aliitasi, was always by his side, and was there with him in his last moments.
My Dad never openly showed his pride for his sons, however, we didn’t need to hear those words to know that his love and support for us was unwavering.
Our Dad was full of character and lots of stories. One particular story went international when he was asked by a French reporter during the 2007 Rugby World Cup if he played any rugby and he said, “No, but I am a former heavy weight champion of the world and I sparred with Mohammed Ali”.
We are still asked to this day whether our dad was a famous boxer, we joking reply, “Yes, he had 5 fights, 4 loses and 1 win, but only because his opponent didn’t turn up!”.
As time went by, he became known for his greeting, E Agalelei le Alii” and his open palm handshake, useful to accept a 10 tala note, well spent at his favourite social spot, the RSA.
His unique laugh was always present and it will forever brighten up the darkness.
My Dad was such a great man because of the love and support from our Mum. She has and will always be the rock of our family. Thank you Mum, for all your love and support to Papa. You have spent a lifetime together and you took care of him so well up until his last breath and beyond.
Grief is the last act of love we have to give to those we love. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.
On behalf of my Dad and my family, I want to take this opportunity to thank his friends, family and everyone who loved him and looked out for him. I can’t name specific names because there are too many of you but your prayers and well wishes have been overwhelming.
Papa, your legacy will live on through your children and grandchildren, we can’t thank you enough for everything you have done for us. A legend never dies.
Alofa atu Papa, until we meet again. “E Agalelei le Alii”.