Legacy of love, a life of giving

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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HAPPIER TIMES: Mr and Mrs Grey with some of the guests during the opening of the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel in 2016.

HAPPIER TIMES: Mr and Mrs Grey with some of the guests during the opening of the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel in 2016. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

Samoa has lost an icon with the passing away of La’auli Alan Grey. 

The businessman, hotelier, “Good Samaritan” to countless people, La’auli died peacefully at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital, Moto’otua, yesterday morning. He was 82.

La’auli was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday with stomach pain. His condition deteriorated on Friday night before he eventually passed away.

Affectionately referred to as the “father of Samoan rugby,” tributes about La’auli’s tremendous influence in Samoa and the Pacific region immediately followed from all over the world.

Many took to social media to pay tribute to a hugely influential man with a loving heart. They remembered a man who was so generous he would help everyone and anyone – including animals.

While his business achievements as the Owner of the iconic Aggie Grey’s Hotel among other high profile ventures need no introduction, mourners paid tribute the simple acts that truly reflected La’auli’s heart of gold to help the less fortunate.

They remembered the owner of the red Ford pick up truck who would stop on the road to pick up anyone who needed a ride to and from Tiavi. They acknowledged his work to feed the stray and family dogs along the way to his home every day. 

A devout Catholic with his loving wife, Marina Grey, La’auli lived a life of giving.

He donated on a monthly basis to the Little Sisters of the Poor and many other charitable causes. 

In business, La’auli helped many local businesses that turned to him in their hour of need. Despite his influence and success though, he was very low key and extremely private. 

But it is rugby and how he helped to develop and raise the profile of the sport where his legacy will be cemented.

Yesterday, the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, described La’auli as a hero.  

 “Without La’auli, Samoan rugby wouldn’t be where it is today,”  Loau told the Samoa Observer. “He was the key in the development of the sport. He invested so much of his money and love into the development of rugby in Samoa. 

“He loved rugby passionately and that is evident with his never ending support whether it is through financial or otherwise.”

Loau, a former Manu Samoa, recalled the early days of the Manu Samoa.

“Back in the early 80s when the Union could not afford to pay for our airfares to travel in the Pacific to play against Fiji and Tonga, La’auli stepped up,” he said. 

“From airfares to uniforms to rugby gears, this man loved rugby like it was his son. His vision for Samoa and rugby has come to pass where we have now been placed on the map. That would not have happened without La’auli.”

Loau lamented the loss of a great soul.

“I am saddened by the passing of one of Samoa’s legends. My condolences to his family.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has in the past openly acknowledged La’auli as the “father of rugby” in Samoa. Like Loau, Tuilaepa said rugby in Samoa would have died a long time ago if it wasn’t for La’auli’s support. 

Businesswise, La’auli was a hard worker, laying the foundation for the growth of the Grey Investment Group, which has become one of the Pacific’s largest boutique investment groups with properties in Samoa and Tahiti French Polynesia.

 “He has been instrumental in laying the foundations for what is known today as the Grey Investment Group and the diverse portfolio,” according to the Company’s website. 

HAPPIER TIMES: Marina and her husband La'auli Alan Grey.
HAPPIER TIMES: Marina and her husband La'auli Alan Grey.

“The group has become one of Samoa’s largest employers outside of government, providing valuable jobs and opportunities for the community.”

La’auli, the son of Aggie Grey, is survived by his wife, Marina, their children Aggie, Tanya, Lupesina Fred Grey and grandchildren. 

His funeral service is on Wednesday.

SOME OF THE ROLES HE 

HELD OVER THE YEARS

• Chairman and Director: Central Bank of Samoa;

• Chairman and Director: Bank of Western Samoa. Formerly owned by the Government of Samoa and the Bank of New Zealand (now the A.N.Z. Bank Samoa Limited);

• Chairman and Director: Samoa Industrial Gases (now B.O.C. Gas Samoa Limited);

• Chairman and Director: Polynesian Airlines;

• Chairman and Director: Samoa Visitors Bureau (now Samoa Tourism Authority);

• Director: Virgin Samoa Airlines;

• Chairman: Samoa Hotel Association;

• Chairman and President: Samoa Rugby Football Union Inc.;

• Treasurer: Samoa Rugby Football Union Inc.;

• President: Samoa Rotary Association;

• Commodore: Apia Yacht Club;

• Manu Samoa: Rugby Football Union Representative Player;

• Represented Samoa: Sailing and Yachting at the South Pacific Games;

• Induction: into the Hall of Fame for Samoa sport;

• Patron: Many Sporting Bodies, Charities and non-government organisations; 

• Honoured with the Outstanding Service Award for service to Samoa and the Business Community awarded by the Samoan Government.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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