Club pays tribute to a legend

By Sina Filifilia Sevaaetasi ,

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REMEMBERING A GREAT MAN: The late Tupua Fred Wetzell with P.M. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi in a past Marist event.

REMEMBERING A GREAT MAN: The late Tupua Fred Wetzell with P.M. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi in a past Marist event.

 “Wear a smile and carry on.”

These famous words of the late Tupua Fred Wetzell at the four corners of the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel on Tuesday night where the Marist family paused to remember their fallen honorary member and lifetime partner, Tupua.

His legacy continues through friends, family and even the Prime Minster, Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, paid tribute to the great man. 

Tuilaepa acknowledged the great contribution that Tupua had made to develop and groom future sports men and women through funding sports initiatives such as this one. 

It was then that Tupua’s daughter, Angie Wetzell, began to tear up because of the Prime Minister’s touching words about her father.  She was the only child of the late Tupua’s who was in attendance as the rest were overseas.  

When it was her turn to brave the podium and pay tribute to her father, she did so with class and a winning smile.  

 “In the absence of my brothers, Vernon and Masoe, there is only one other person not in our midst this evening. I am sure you are aware of to whom I refer, and that it is, Mr. Hey, Hey, Ho!  Amuia le ao, Tupua Fred Wetzell.

MARIST MOMENT: Angie Wetzell, Seumanutafa Micheal Kapisi, Tualagi Van Heeswyk and Peter Van Heeswyk.
MARIST MOMENT: Angie Wetzell, Seumanutafa Micheal Kapisi, Tualagi Van Heeswyk and Peter Van Heeswyk.

“I am more than honored to stand here before you for this special occasion in honoring our father as lifetime partner and honorary member of the Marist St. Joseph’s Club. 

“On behalf of my brothers and I, we humbly thank you for this recognition. Dad was and is a son of Samoa, he loved his country and always proclaimed that he had left his heart in Samoa. Whenever he was overseas he would always sing, “I wanna go back to my little grass shack in Samoa.”

“Dad also loved this club.  Over the decades many of you will know the dedication our father had, not just to the Marist Club, but to many other sporting bodies in Samoa be it squash, boxing or fishing, just to name a few. Come to think of it, whilst Vailima is not a sport, he was a greater supporter.  I think we may even have shares.”  

“This being the first Marist Club tournament of 2017, this is also the first club tournament without Dad.  Which means the baton has been passed on and one becomes three.  But we children of Tupua wish to inform the executive committee that it is our intention to continue our fathers legacy  in supporting your efforts in grooming Samoa’s future sports men and women.”

“Having said that, you have to wait for the return of my brothers for our financial contributions.  Not that I couldn’t have signed the check but they also wish to have been present here tonight.  At least, Tupua wont be too-poor just yet.  Somehow, three poor just doesn’t quite sound the same.”  

“But to end, our dad stands very proud of all that you’ve achieved and we pray therefore for God’s blessing on Vailima sports Week and we thank you all humbly.”

Her touching speech was then followed with by a tribute video featuring the late Tupua singing with is classic ukulele in hand and winning smile. Needless to say, there was not a dry eye in the room.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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