Family, friends and colleagues met at a special service on Monday to remember the man known to most as “Papa Sam,” the loving husband, father and grandfather who joined his ancestors suddenly last Friday following a heart attack. He was just 68 years old.
A true man of the people who dedicated his life to his community both at work and at home, Samuela spent 51 years with the company. He also served as a Deacon of the Cook Islands Christian Church of Avarua.
His eldest daughter, Raera Samuela, described her father as a hardworking “fixit” man whose legacy was teaching his family to “be the best.”
“He loved fixing things and getting to know people and even church was one of the strongest things to him. But I think that’s just the person he is, he was passionate about everything he did.
“And that’s it, if you don’t have passion then you won’t be able to do it.”
A skilled mechanic, Samuela operated as a supervisor in what company manager Teariki Pennycook describes as the “most important workshop at Motor Center.”
The business was established in 1967 by owner Don Dorrell and Samuela was hired by the company a year later, aged 17. It would be his first and last workplace.
Speaking of her colleague and dear friend of 13 years, Rima Raea-Araitia, described Samuela as a father figure to staff and founding member of the “Untouchables”- staff members who had been with the company so long, they could do no wrong.
“He was sick for a long time but he was pretty strong, he just kept on going. Every year he said he was going to retire, but he never did.”
After the special service at his workplace, Papa Sam was taken on his last drive to his family home in Avatiu, where he was laid to rest on Tuesday.
He is survived by his four daughters Raera, Te Manomano, Sharon, Margaret, his son Iriea, his wife Mama Nganga and their nine grandchildren.