Former Regulator passes away

A former head of the Office of the Regulator in Samoa, Donnie Defreitas, has died in Suva, Fiji.

The 63-year-old was the Regulator from 2009 to 2015. He passed away last Friday. He is survived by his wife, Antonia Wong Defreitas.

The family service, which was held at the Dignified Cremations in Suva, was live-streamed on YouTube at 9am on Wednesday.

Mr. Defreitas' last project, before resigning from the Office of the Regulator in 2015 to head to Fiji, was the establishment of a new internet service provider company which competed against Bluesky (now Vodafone) and Digicel at that time.

Staff at the Office of the Regulator in Apia expressed their condolences and sent their sympathies to the family of their former boss, and posted a message from staff member, Etenauga Tanielu, on the office’s Facebook page.

“We are deeply saddened to hear about your sudden death boss. We are still trying to come to terms of believing the sad news that you’re gone,” the staff member writes.

“I just want you to know that I consider myself very lucky to have gotten the opportunity to work for someone like you. You are a such a very humble and loving man. You were a Samoan during the time you spent with us at OOTR, fitting in with many of our entertainments, feast, sporting, social events and much more.”

According to school friend, Adrian Saunders, Mr. Defreitas was exceptional and always had a keen interest in all sports.

"I knew him since we were both youngsters. On one of his frequent visits home in the Caribbeans, I was struck with the manner he explained to me how and why Samoa has been able to maintain such a high world ranking in rugby," he said.

Mrs. Defreitas, who gave the eulogy at the family service, said they started courting in 2013 when she was working for the World Bank Group in Samoa.

"I had heard of Donnie's arrival in 2009, and word on the street back then said there was a new fellow in town from a country called St. Vincent. I remember sitting at the back of meeting rooms and conferences watching Donnie and at the same time wondering, 'what language this fellow is speaking because I couldn't work out what he was saying because of his accent',” she said. 

"I remember our first date, it was just like yesterday. Donnie didn't say much, he just looked chilled until he confessed that he had done a quick research on me from some of his staff, and all of the boxes were ticked."

She said their first date was at a local restaurant in Samoa and fish and chips was their first meal together as a couple. 

Since then, their relationship blossomed and they were inseparable. 

Mr. Defreitas’ whole life and persona defines simplicity, according to his widowed wife. 

She said she went through her late husband's diary on Tuesday night and saw a note he wrote on Hollywood star Denzel Washington’s 10 Rules for Success, and concluded that it summed up his aspiration to live life to the fullest.

Expressing her appreciation to family and friends around the world for the condolences and words of encouragement, Mrs. Defreitas said her late husband’s remains will be taken to St. Vincent in the Caribbeans to be laid to rest.

Mr. Defreitas was the Director of the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Centre (PiRRC), a World Bank-funded project housed at the University of the South Pacific, until his passing.

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