La’auli Alan Grey – A man of giving, a man that has touched so many with his love and kindness
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – WEDNESDAY 28 MARCH 2018: Samoa today farewelled a humble and simple man. His legacy is synonymous with Samoan tourism and with the world famous and legendary hotel, Aggie Greys of Samoa.
Awarded Samoa’s highest honour, the Western Samoa Order of Merit in 1993 for his services not only to tourism but to rugby, the quiet businessman and hotelier La’auli Alan Grey is remembered as a loving, humble and kind man.
He passed away at the National Hospital last Saturday 24 March at 82 years old.
In his eulogy, son Lupesina Frederick Grey remembers the legacy his father left behind for him and family.
“He said son, I was born a simple man. I will walk and die a simple man. Never forget, treat people with respect and humility.”
It is La’auli’s humility that people remember.
“He said, son, treat people with respect and humility,” said Lupesina.
He acknowledged his father’s love for the people of Samoa and those he had a chance to help.
“It was always people first, and him last,” said Lupesina. ‘
He said his father shared to him that life was all about people and helping fellow human beings.
“But above all, be honest and sincere to everyone, no matter how rich, poor, or what colour they are, everyone is the same to me.”
Lupesina described his father’s last days at the hospital where his La’auli’s love for the people shone through despite his condition.
“He was shaking hands, joking with the nurses, giving the thumps up sign and acknowledging the doctors, and always asked his wife to give money for this person.”
It was the qualities that touched many guests from all walks of life from country leaders, to writers and movie actors that found Aggie Greys hotel “a home away from home.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi spoke on behalf of the Government and acknowledged La’auli and his family’s tremendous contribution to the development of tourism and sports in Samoa.
This contribution was recognised in 1993, when the Government awarded a Western Samoa Order of Merit on La’auli, and that recognition also qualifies the awardee’s casket to be covered with the state flag, and to be carried by the police guard.
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Tuilaepa said the Aggie Grey’s Hotel started by La’auli’s late mother, Aggie Grey was the only hotel in Samoa that used the unique aspects of Samoan culture to welcome and farewell guests, and that tradition was continued by La’auli and family.
“Guests did not feel like they were visiting a foreign island, because they felt welcome. This is truly a home away from home,” said Tuilaepa.
On rugby, La’auli single handedly funded the development of the country’s national rugby team, Manu Samoa without any assistance from the Government, using his own resources until 1997.
Tuilaepa said it was during this time that rugby became a professional sport, and two of New Zealands millionaires Sir Michael and Fay Richwhite bought the Manu Samoa.
In 2002, Tuilaepa was appointed Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union and La’auli as Deputy Chairman. Their mission was to return Manu Samoa to Samoa’s ownership.
In his younger days, La’auli Alan Grey played No.10. for Vaiala and represented Samoa against Tonga in the days when international rugby tests were rare. He later coached the Vaiala rugby team and also contributed to fautasi longboat racing. He not only provided longboats for Apia and Toamua villages but was the trainer and captain an added to the excitement of the races that come at least once during the national days.
He was also an animal lover and the stray and domestic dogs along the Vailima to Afiamalu Road would wait on the roadside at an appointed time when they know La’auli’s white truck would be around with their feed.
La’auli’s final service was held at the Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at Mulivai.
The Manu Samoa Sevens Team for the Commonwealth Games, performed the sivatau after the church service in honour of a man who has done so much for the sport in Samoa.
At his final resting place at the family home at Afiamalu, the Prime Minister presented the Samoan flag to La’auli’s wife.
La’auli is survived by his wife Marina Thompsen Grey, two daughters and a son and grandchildren.