Hans Joachim (Joe) Keil - Hands and Acts of kindness

By Ivamere Nataro 30 December 2018, 12:00AM

Compassion and humbleness are two virtues that best describe the life of the late Joachim (Joe) Hans Keil, the second son of William and Violet Keil. 

Born on May 11, 1944 Joe was the epitome of a great leader and family man, serving the people of Samoa and his family with random acts of kindness until he was called to rest on August 31, 2018. 

Not only was he seen as a great politician, entrepreneur, and a aircraft pilot, he touched the hearts of even the ordinary people with his generous act of kindness. 

The acts of kindness and the number of ordinary lives that he touched makes him a nominee for the Samoa Observer People of the Year 2018. 

Joe was the Minister of Transport and later Minister of Trade and Tourism in the Samoan Government after successfully running for Parliament representing the individual voters roll in February 1988. He represented Samoa internationally at the United Nations, European Union, and other international forums and served 23 years in Parliament, before retiring from politics in 2011. 

In March 1996, his family opened the first McDonalds Family Restaurant in Samoa, along with his father and the Schwenke family. They established TV3 in 2006, and it was the first privately owned TV station in the country. 

Some key programmes that were broadcasted included Samoan idol, young stars singing competition, the national spelling bee competition and the Eight Days of Christmas. 

The former politician was also involved in preserving the cultural and historical legacies of Samoa through the Samoa Historical and Cultural Trust, which he founded, and was also its chairman and main financier. 

After completing his flight training at Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Joe returned to Samoa in 1970 to begin his flying career with Air Samoa and then Polynesian Airlines. 

The aircraft he flew were the Cessnas, Britten Norman Islander, the Douglas DC3, the Hawker Siddely 748, and the Boeing 737. 

The late philanthropist was one of the founders of Walk for Life, which was established to help those in need.     

Joe’s act of kindness started at a very early age, helping others and providing for his family. 

He lived a normal childhood life, growing up on a cocoa and coconut plantation at Lotopa, which belonged to his grandfather. 

They lived in a big old house on the river bank, and he roamed their plantation eating fruits like esi, mangoes, vi, coconuts, sugar cane. Their home had its benefits — he learned how to swim at a very young age. 

Joe attended Leifiifi Primary School and together with his cousins, they would walk to and from school every day, because there were no buses and a few cars on the road. 

At the age of eight, his mother took the brothers to attend school in New Zealand. He joined a men’s choir and also volunteered to help build the L.D.S. temple in Hamilton. 

At the age of nine, he worked a newspaper route and whatever money he earned was given to his granny Hazel. He completed two years of his secondary school studies at CCWS, Pesega.  

While doing his flight training in the United States, in 1967, he was called on an L.D.S. mission to Samoa and served under Pres, which allowed him the opportunity to travel around Samoa and know the people, understand the customs, and traditions and learnt to speak the language fluently. 

Joe married Celine in 1971 and they have four children, three girls – Violette, Bella and Katrina - and Nathan. 

His favourite hobbies are reading, swimming with his son, who is now 33 years old. After having dedicated his life to Samoa and its development, Joe lived a quiet life of reading, researching into Samoan history and the European involvement, and collecting the history of the Keil family.

By Ivamere Nataro 30 December 2018, 12:00AM

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