Tunufa’i Fasi Ta’ase passed away on the beautiful morning of September 2, 2023. He lived 55 full years here on Earth and now joins the amazing legions of our Heavenly Angels.
He was born on November 19, 1967 to Fasialepia and Tu’umafua Ta’ase in Pago Pago, American Samoa. His parents lovingly allowed Tunufa’i to bless the life of Fasialepia’s cousin, Ana Malo and her husband, Aieni Nga Woo, and be raised as their son. Growing up in the beautiful village of Sailele, American Samoa, Tunufa’i was the youngest brother of his 3 sisters, Naomi, Tapu, and Ana. His sweet mother, Ana, precedes him in death, passing away when Tunufa’i was 6 years old. He lovingly reminisced of her his whole earthly life and we know without a doubt, there was a joyous reunion as he returned to her. When Tunufa’i was 12, he and his father moved to Ventura California where he attended junior high and high school. He graduated from Port Hueneme High School, in 1985. During his time in California, Tunufa’i not only learned how to speak English, but he also excelled with his abilities as a very natural and talented athlete. At the time of his high school graduation, he had accepted a full ride scholarship to play football at University of Utah as a Defensive End. He moved to the beautiful valley of Salt Lake City, Utah in the summer of 1985.
In the fall of 1987, on a volleyball court at the University of Utah, a true stunner caught his eye. She was a tall, blonde, green-eyed beauty and her name was Laurie Ann Meyer. During their first encounter, he was frustrated after one of his hits was completely blocked by her and from then on, he made every excuse to get to know her. Laurie played volleyball at the university and Tunufa’i quickly fell in love with her. Their story began and continued there on campus, filled with walks from class to class, dates to the trading post, twix & frescas, The Pie, sharing a mug of root beer from Hires, competitive games of sports, and supporting each other as collegiate athletes. They dated for 2 years and on September 16, 1989, they married in Laurie’s hometown of Mesa, Arizona, budding the start of what is now a magnificent family unit. In August of 1990, Tunufa’i and Laurie moved to Mesa, Arizona where they set roots down and purchased their first home on Lindsay Road in between McKellips and Brown. Then came their pride and their joy, all their ten children: Tiana Rae, Talia Ashley, Malia Ann, Te’ia Ashton, Mata’ava Aieni Joseph, Taleni Elenoa, MaiAnalani Anjanae, Malaki Tupou Iosefa, Tavita Tuaoloina, and Tineimaia Elisiva. Likewise, Tunufa’i is a stellar Father in Law to Lorance Vea Kaufusi (Tiana), Jackson Halm (Talia), Dillon Roberts (Te’ia), and Ellie Thornton Ta’ase (Mata’ava).
Tunufa’i’s life was made infinitely better on January 3, 2011 when his very first granddaughter, Anahlia Jade Halm entered the world. This ushered in a new title, one he loved and cherished endlessly- Grandpa. Shortly thereafter, Nora Simea Halm followed, and the next 11 years brought the rest of his pepes to him earth side. Ika Helani Vea, Lolei Tu’umafua Vea, Rula Aieni Halm, Laurae Elisiva Vea, Laleta Maileni Vea, Manaia Ann Roberts, Liahona Ann Vea, Elli’Ana Mae Ta’ase, SiakiAtali’i Ta’ase Halm, Lahna Marie Vea. His grandchildren were the absolute apple of his eye, and he would cater hand and foot to their wants and needs. It was not abnormal to walk into the house and have him holding multiple babies. He endlessly ensured that all of his babies were fed, clothed, showered and dried, sang to, and loved. He is the most wonderful patriarch of our family.
Tunufa’i was the supreme example of what it means to provide for his family. There was never a time when he begrudgingly went to work to take care of his family. His work ethic is unmatched. Tunufa’i held an array of jobs, and at times multiple, until he landed in his passion: working with youth. He was able to create and own a wonderful company, River of Life Behavioral Health Services, where he serviced the at-risk youth of the Gila River Indian Community. Tunufa’i is the epitome of care, and he was able to be a pillar to these young people and their families. It was apparent that his true happiness came through when he served and loved others, and we are so happy that he was able to make a living doing what he loved the most.
Tunufa’i is well known throughout the community. He could always be found at a sporting event, passionately involved in the games and letting spectators and referees know his opinion. He was an intricate part of his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. All his membership in the church was fostered and existed in his beloved 46th Ward of the Mesa East Stake. He lovingly looked to and was mentored by many friends who lived around his home. He attributed much of his success as a husband, father, and person to the examples of those around him. Tunufa’i loved serving those around him and it was a lovely thing to witness as he thought of unique and original ways to make someone else’s life easier. He would thrift new clothes and shoes for those who were in need, cut and serve watermelon to the local high school football team, allow anyone to drum his pake at football games, and took time to learn of people’s name- just to name a few. Tunufa’i instilled in his children standards and expectations to operate from a place of gratitude and humility and to always maintain a quality of service and love to all those they come into contact with.
Tunufa’i had a beautiful talent of singing. He was not bashful with his singing ability and loved to join along with the songs around as a stately bass. Tunufa’i was a part of the local Samoan Men’s Choir, and he looked forward to performing with his brothers while embodying the beautiful love and life of his Samoan Culture. Tunufa’i also was very talented athletically and enjoyed playing sports his whole life. In his latter years, he loved to spend his time playing golf, and enjoyed his time as a member of the Poly Golf Association of Arizona.
The loss of this giant of a man reaches farther and deeper than many realize, but we understand that as this is the case, it signifies that his life was full of love and meaning. Our belief in the Plan of Salvation and Eternal Life helps reassure us that Tunufa’i is now living amongst our ancestors that have gone before us and our loved ones yet to join us on Earth, alongside our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
We know we will be together again, forever. Tunufa’i knows no stranger, and we know that there is no way to fill the void he has left here on earth. However, we, as his family, know that he is so happy as he is having a glorious reunion with his parents, siblings, and all of the beautiful people he knows and loves on the other side of the veil. So, although we are sad for us here, we are so happy for our sweet Dad!
During this tender time, we are so grateful for the immediate and generous outpouring of love. Tunufa’i helped so many feel love and acceptance and it has been beautiful to witness the love and support reciprocated. Thank you from the deepest part of our hearts.
Tunufa’i has left an indelible mark on his family, friends, and community. We love and acknowledge the power of sharing stories. This email has been created, in hopes of people being able to share with us fond memories, stories, and photos of our dad. firstname.lastname@example.org