Eni Faleomavaega, who served 13 terms as American Samoa’s delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, died on Feb. 22 at his home in Provo, Utah. He was 73.
Born in American Samoa, Faleomavaega grew up in Hawaii and earned his bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University in Utah and his law degrees at University of Houston Law Center and UC Berkeley. He served in Vietnam with the Army and later became an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.
He served as administrative assistant to American Samoa Delegate A.U. Fuimaono from 1973 to 1975, staff counsel for the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs from 1975 to 1981, and deputy attorney general for American Samoa from 1981 to 1984, then was elected lieutenant governor of American Samoa in 1985.
Faleomavaega, a Democrat, was elected to the House in 1988 and served from January 1989 to January 2015, when he was succeeded by Republican Amata Radewagen. He was a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Natural Resources. Like delegates from Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, he could vote as a committee member but not on the House floor.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, on Feb. 23 released the following statement: “I am deeply saddened by the passing of Congressman Eni Faleomavaega – a true patriot, leader, and friend. Throughout his distinguished military and public service career, Eni dedicated his life to putting country above self.
“As one of the founding members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, as well as the longest-serving delegate to represent American Samoa in the U.S. House of Representatives, he was a strong champion for his constituents and the broader Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
“During his time in Congress, he worked to secure critical funding to improve American Samoa’s infrastructure, health care system, and schools. As chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment, he also worked tirelessly to cultivate stronger U.S. relations throughout the Asia-Pacific region and to highlight the strategic role of our U.S. territories in the Pacific.
“I always enjoyed working with Eni, and will never forget his unwavering dedication to advancing the rights of his constituents and all Americans. His leadership will truly be missed. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”