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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended June 18, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 16Jun00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Samoan LDS Leader and High School Asst. Principle Feared Drowned
Anchorage AK Daily News 16Jun00 P2
By Larry Campbell

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA -- Aisa Aumoeualogo, 50, the branch president of the 275-member LDS Samoan branch in Anchorage and a popular assistant principal at Anchorage's West High School is missing and presumed drowned in a fishing accident on the Copper River in Alaska. Aumoeualogo was known as 'Mr. Logo' to students at West High.

Aumoeualogo was 'dipnetting' in the Cooper River on Wednesday afternoon with his younger brother, Leroy Manumaleuna. Working the river several hundred yards upriver from his brother, Aumoeualogo evidently lost his footing and was swept down river by the current. He was not wearing a life vest.

According to Alaska State Troopers, he was last seen by his brother, apparently unconscious, floating down the river. As of Thursday evening, his body had not been found. Neither Manumaleuna nor other fishermen were able to reach Aumoeualogo because of the swiftness of the river.

"We'd have more hope if there had been some kicking or acknowledgment that he was conscious when witnesses saw him," said State Trooper Sgt. Rodney Dial . "But the water's so silty up there right now. And the locals will tell you that the undertow will just take anything right down." 1st Sgt. Paul Burke, the troopers search-and-rescue coordinator, said the river is especially high and rough this time of year as last winter's heavy snow melts.

Even though most students and staff at West High were gone because the school has closed for the summer, those contacted by the Anchorage Daily News were in shock over Aumoeualogo's death. "Everyone there is taking it pretty hard," said Pat McDowell, Anchorage School District head of high school education. "He was basically principal (Lance) Bowie's right-hand man."

Aumoeualogo joined the Anchorage district in 1996 from a teaching job in Barrow, Alaska. He taught math and physical education at Clark Middle School before becoming an assistant principle in January 1997 at the Service High School. He then moved to West High in September 1998.

Both the Samoan and Mormon communities in Anchorage also mourned the loss. Aumoeualogo was past president of the Samoan Affairs Association in Alaska and president of the Samoan Branch, according to stake president William Parks. Bishop Kenneth Petersen told the Daily News that Aumoeualogo was a role model for youth in the church, and coached a winning boys basketball team, in addition to helping keep teens in school.

Aumoeualogo was also remembered for his role in quelling anger among Samoans following a teenage feud three years ago that left a 17-year-old Samoan youth dead.

"He loved kids and would do anything for them," said LDS Church member Ruta Tufaga, "If the kids had a problem, they went to him. He kept kids off the street. He had a big heart and would do anything to help. We don't have anybody else (in the School District) that is in his position. He was a role model for our kids."


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