The Suafo’a family immigrated to California from American Samoa and eventually settled in Aliamanu, Hawaii. Lote and Uati Suafo’a Sr. raised 4 sons; Sefo, Uati Jr., Etuale, and Kose, on Aliamanu's infamous Likini Street until Uati Sr.’s untimely death at 39 in 1955. As a widow, Lote then raised her 4 sons on her own with very humble means. The older brothers had no choice but to go to school and work to help their mother with the financial demands of a single-parent home. At a very early age, the Suafo’a brothers understood the importance of hard work, sacrifice, and the responsibility of juggling home life, school, and sports simultaneously.
Two of the brothers, Etuale and Uati Jr., attended Radford High School in the late 1960s-early 1970s where they made tremendous contributions to the Rams’ athletics wrestling and football programs and were both fortunate to be coached by Mr. John Velasco. Coach Velasco was an instrumental role model as he served a dual role for the Suafo’a brothers; one as a coach and athletic mentor and another as a father figure. Carrying forth the life lessons instilled by Mr. Velasco, the Suafo’a brothers continued their careers as student-athletes at the collegiate level. Etuale also played for a short time with The Hawaiians in the World Football League and eventually returned to Radford High School where he served as Vice Principal until he retired from the Department of Education.
Sadly, on December 26, 2023, the only surviving Suafo'a brother, Etuale, unexpectedly passed away. While his daughters Bernie and Samara initially began the Suafo'a Strong scholarship fund in 2015 as a way of honoring the commitment and hard work of their predecessors, the legacy of this scholarship has grown even more important as a way of paying homage specifically to their father and three late uncles Sefo, Kose, and Uati Jr. In their names, this scholarship allows Bernie, Samara, and their mother Connie, Etuale's wife of over 52 years, to support Oceanic students of Radford High who value education, post-high school planning, and the opportunity to advance themselves in such a way that serves themselves, their families, and their communities. To date, the Suafo'a family has raised over $10K to support 14 Radford High School students in launching their post-high school aspirations.
As a family rooted in the following fundamental beliefs: work ethic, tautua (service), humility, leadership, perseverance, and personal accountability, we aim to support graduating high school students of Radford High School who aspire to a path to higher education and beyond. This year, our family very proudly dedicates the 2024 Suafo'a Strong Scholarship to our late father Etuale Vinisini Suafo'a, proud RAM of the class of 1969.