Fa’asasalu Polamalu, known as Salu, passed away at his home in Tenmile, Oregon, on the evening of August 30, 2018, at the age of 73.
A native son of Samoa, he was born first of eleven children to Fa’asasalu and Ta’eleese Pola in the village of Siufaga on the island of Ta‘ū in the Manu’a islands of American Samoa. In the late 1950s, his family moved from Ta’u to the island of Tutuila, American Samoa, where he competed as a boxer and compiled a perfect record, and under the tutelage of the late Freddy Letuli, he learned the siva afi (dance with fire), a traditional Samoan dance where warriors demonstrate their proficiency with a flaming war club called the nifo oti.
He graduated from Samoana high school, and in the mid 1960s, his exceptional skills as a fire-kife dancer caught the eye of a talent scout who recruited him to New York City for the World’s Fair where he performed for over a year. When the World’s Fair ended, a talent scout recruited him to Honolulu, Hawaii, to dance at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. During the late sixties he danced at clubs throughout Waikiki including the Don Ho Show where he met his wife to be, Rochelle Redenius. The couple was married in 1970 at ‘Akaka Falls on the big island of Hawaii.
In the mid to late 1970s, they bounced back and forth residing in Tenmile, Oregon, Tutuila, and Ta’u, before permanently settling in Tenmile, Oregon, where he cleared a creek-side space with his machete for a home. He quickly fell in love with Oregon life, hunting, fishing, and cutting firewood every chance he got. His father-in-law and best friend Skip Redenius showed him the world of Oregon, and he showed Skip Samoa. He became a fixture in the community at sporting events where he volunteered as soccer and baseball coach, helped to build dugouts and concessions, dragged baseball fields, and put on luaus to raise money for generations of sports programs. He worked for over thirty years for the Oregon Department of Transportation where he retired as a Project Inspector.
Salu is survived by his wife of 49 years, Shelley Polamalu; his four sons, Joe, Darren, Brandon, and Troy; his eleven grandchildren, Megan, Paul, Iosefa, Talati, Milaneta, Maleata, Ta’eleese, Sialafua, Vaimanino, Paisios, and Ephraim.
A celebration of life for Salu Polamalu, age 73, of Tenmile, Oregon, will be held at the James Orchard in Winston on Saturday, September 8, 2018, from 11:00 am to 1:00 p.m.