Former Yap Lt. Gov. Hilary Tacheliol
Colonia, Yap. In late 1944, a regiment of the United States Army's 81st Division and a battalion of Seabees landed on the small island of Ulithi in the westernmost area of the Carolina Islands. Surrounding one of the largest lagoons in the world, within a month the string of islands became a complete floating base that grew to thousands of personnel and 722 ships in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa. Born in 1940 on the island of Mogmog, Hilary Tacheliol was only four years old when the military arrived, but the massive white ship with the large Red Cross painted on its side made a lifelong impression. It was one of many stories he told about his life that were recorded for posterity in 2019 by Pasifika Renaissance. Tacheliol passed away at the age of 79 on Sept. 5 after a long and distinguished life and career devoted to public service.
Federated States of Micronesia President David Panuelo issued a proclamation on Sept. 9 ordering the half-mast display of the FSM flag and a national mourning period of three days in honor of the former Lt. Governor of Yap. The proclamation states, “…it is with deep sadness that I announce officially the passing of the Honorable Hilary Tacheliol…” It continues, “(his) passing…constitutes a great loss not only to the people of the State of Yap, but the whole Nation, as well.”
“All Yapese join with the Nation and the Chief’s family and friends in mourning his passing,” said Yap Gov. Henry S. Falan. “He was not only a good friend and an honorable man, he was the embodiment of the best of the Yapese culture and will be remembered far into the future for his important role in the history of our country and our state.”
Falan also proclaimed a four-day mourning period for Yap on Sept. 7 during which the state flag was displayed at half-mast alongside the FSM flag.
A graduate of Xavier High School and the University of Guam where he earned a bachelor in political science and secondary education at a time when a college education was a rarity among Pacific islanders, Tacheliol began his career in the school system serving both Yap proper and the Outer Islands.
In 1973, he was appointed the first deputy district administrator for Yap District during the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and went on to serve two terms as the first lieutenant governor of Yap during the birth of the Federated States of Micronesia as an independent country, and Yap’s first administration from 1979 to 1987.
He also served in many distinguished capacities over the years as a cabinet member during prior administrations for various departments and offices, as well as on boards and commissions for Yap and the national government. He was the longest serving member of the board of directors for the FSM Development Bank and, at the time of his death, was serving as the acting chairman of the Council of Tamol with responsibility for oversight of issues related to tradition and culture. ADVERTISEMENT
The Yap State Legislature issued a resolution, as well, “…expressing deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the family, relatives and friends….for his untimely passing.” The resolution states, “...during his many decades of dedicating his life to the betterment of the State of Yap, he had earned the respect of the people throughout the Nation, and will be missed by the leaders and the people of the State of Yap as a man who made significant contributions to the political, economical and social development of the State of Yap and the FSM.” “The Honorable Tacheliol had the longest career ever in public service serving the people of Yap,”Falan said. “His selfless dedication is a beacon of light to all who have, and will, come after him. I am honored to have known him as a cherished friend, trusted counselor and distinguished colleague. I offer my sincerest condolences on behalf of all Yapese. We will carry him in our hearts forever.”