Former U.S. delegate from American Samoa dies at 73

The former American Samoa delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, Eni H. Faleomavaega, died on Wednesday at the age of 73, according to multiple reports.

Faleomavaega was American Samoa’s longest serving nonvoting delegate with 13 consecutive terms under his belt before he lost an election in 2014. The Democratic politician represented a U.S. territory that is located approximately 2,300 miles south of Hawaii.

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend Eni Faleomavaega. Eni and I arrived in Congress together in 1989, and I came to know him as a tireless public servant and dedicated champion for his constituents and his beloved home, American Samoa. He was also a warm and caring colleague who for decades earned the friendship and respect of fellow lawmakers,” Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said in a statement released Thursday evening.

“Congressman Faleomavaega was a valued leader on the Foreign Affairs Committee. The first Asian Pacific American to chair the Asia-Pacific Subcommittee, he was an early voice speaking about the importance of America’s role and interests in that part of the world. Eni himself helped to strengthen the relationships between the United States and our friends and allies in Asia and the Pacific,” added Engel, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Faleomavaega’s sister-in-law, Therese Hunkin, confirmed the former politician died at his home in Provo, Utah, but did not state the cause of death.

American Samoa’s acting governor Lemanu Palepoi Peleti Mauga said Faleomavaega “had served the people and government of American Samoa faithfully for many years.”

Faleomavaega was born in the Vailoatai Village of American Samoa, attended Kahuku High School in Hawaii in 1962, then went onto Brigham Young University in Utah. He had served three years in the U.S. Army, including time in Vietnam. He later earned a law degree from the University of Houston and master of laws degree from the University of California at Berkeley.

He left behind a wife, five children and 10 grandchildren.

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