Father of Tuilagi brothers, former Speaker passes way

A former Member of Parliament, Namulau'ulu Lauaki Tuilagi Vavae Leo II, and the father of the world famous Tuilagi rugby brothers, has passed away.

Aged 75, Namulau'ulu passed away on Sunday afternoon due to heart problems. 

The former Member of Parliament and Deputy Speaker of Samoa's Legislative Assembly is survived by his wife, Su'a Ali'itasi Taupa'u-Tuilagi, their seven children and grandchildren.

Namula'ulu, who was also a heavyweight boxing champion, is the father of the renowned Tuilagi brothers who all played for Samoa: Freddie Tuilagi, Henry Tuilagi, Alesana Tuilagi, Anitelea Tuilagi, Vavae Tuilagi.

His youngest son, Manu Samoa Tuilagi, plays for England and competed in the Rugby World Cup in Japan, last year. 

His wife, Su'a was emotional when she recalled their last moments with her beloved husband.  Su'a told the Samoa Observer, that they are still trying to come to terms with the sudden passing of the "head of their family."

"Everything happened so fast," she said. "I didn't think this would be his time to go and be with our maker.

"We had just finished our to'ona'i on Sunday so I laid down for a bit because I was not feeling well. Instead of resting, he (Namulau'ulu) sat on his chair outside where he usually sat. 

"My eyes were closed as I was falling asleep, but then I heard a strange noise coming from where he was. 

"He had fallen down from his chair and he was unconscious, I ran back inside to call for my son, who stays here to look after us, but he was already making his way to the front as he heard the noise from his room. 

"We rushed him to the hospital, but unfortunately, he did not return to us."

Su'a said it was hard to accept the unfortunate passing of her beloved Namula'ulu. 

"It's really hard to believe that he is gone; that he is no longer with us. Still, up to now, we are still in disbelief. He didn't say anything to us, telling us that he would be leaving so soon. He also did not say goodbye."

However, Su'a finds solace in the fact that her husband has gained his wings and is free from the pain of this world. 

"As a wife, I'm heartbroken, because I will not get to talk and share with him the moments we used to spend together," she said.

"But as a mother, I have to stay strong for my children."

The heartbroken mother uttered that the hardest part about the sudden passing of her husband is when she had to break the news to her children, especially the ones residing overseas. 

"It was so hard to tell them about what happened. As I said, it was unexpected. However, I had to find the courage to do it and tell my children that their father is gone. 

"It was the hardest thing to do, especially seeing them crying over the phone and wanting to come to Samoa right away. It breaks my heart and I wish there was something we could do."

According to Su'a, her two sons, Lauaki Fereti (Freddie)Tuilagi and Tuita'asauali'i Manusamoa (Manu) Tuilagi have been trying to find a way for them to travel to Samoa and be here on their father's final day. 

"My dearest children are trying to find a way to be here for the funeral. And it breaks my heart, as a mother and as a wife. However, I am staying strong for my children. I know my husband wouldn't want them to risk anything and come to Samoa during these difficult times we're in."

At the Tuilagi's residence on Monday, Su'a and her three sons, Julie, Alesana (Alex), and Anitele'a (Andy) Tuilagi were flanked by families and friends who stopped by to be there for them and convey their condolences to the grieving family. 

Su'a spoke fondly of her dearest husband and described him as a family man who loved and adored his children more than anything. 

"He is a man of not so many words," Su'a said with a smile.  "His actions were always louder than his words. That was a lesson he instilled in all of his children."

Su'ai went on to say that her husband was behind the successes and achievements of all of her children. 

"He pushed and motivated them to pursue whatever their hearts desired. He believed that his children, who were born and raised in Savai'i could make it big out there, and he worked hard to make that happen. 

"He was a hardworking man.

"During his time in Parliament and when he was a Deputy Speaker, everyone knew the kind of person he was. He loved everyone in the village as his own. He treated everyone equally. Sometimes, even when we don't have enough, he would offer and give anything to anyone who comes to us for help. 

"That was the kind of person he was. He had a loving heart."

Lastly, Su'a said she will miss spending every day with her life partner. 

"It's never going to be the same without him at home," she said. "But no one can stand up against the Lord's will. I am grateful to God for blessing us with such a loving man who spent his whole life working hard for his family, children, village, and for Samoa. 

"I will miss him, but he remains in our hearts forever. We are so grateful to everyone who has been showing us love and support since the passing of our father. These are tough times and it's never easy losing a loved one. But we are so grateful to everyone for their love and support."

Namulau'ulu's youngest sister, Pelenatete Fa'amatala also reminisced on their younger years with her eldest brother. 

"I was shocked when I found out that my dear brother is gone," Pelenatete told the Samoa Observer. 

"He is older than me. There are eleven of us, and I am the youngest. 

"When Namulau'ulu was alive, I would always come to him for help. And he had a big heart and loved everyone. I am sad that he is no longer with us. 

"But I am happy that he is now with our Lord and is now resting from all the pain he was feeling.

"He did so much for our family and for my children and he will be sorely missed by our family, and the village."

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