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Former Sen. Jose Terlaje passes away

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Guam mourns the passing of former Sen. Jose "Pedo" Toves Terlaje. He was 76.

Terlaje was born in Yona on Sept. 23, 1946. He earned an associate of arts in political science and subsequently a bachelor of arts in business and public administration from the University of Guam in 1979.

Terlaje was first elected mayor of Yona in the 2000 general election. He was reelected to two more terms in 2004 and 2008, respectively. His tenure as mayor was from 2001 to 2013.

He placed seventh in the Democratic primary in August, advancing to the general election. He placed 23rd in the general election in November and did not earn a seat in the legislature.

Terlaje ran for the 35th Guam Legislature in 2018. He placed 11th in the Democratic primary election in August, advancing to the general election. He placed 15th in the general election in November, earning a seat in the legislature.

Terlaje was a U.S. Army Veteran of the Vietnam war who was awarded Soldier of the Year during his service.

He was a 16-year veteran of the Guam Police Department including work in the Narcotics Division as a graduate of the DEA’s Drug Enforcement Academy. His extensive background lent to his work as a passionate advocate for law enforcement officers under his oversight at the Guam legislature.

Guam officials issued the following statements on Terlaje's passing.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero: “We join the island of Guam in mourning the passing of Senator Terlaje,a man of distinguished character who dedicated his life to serving the people of Yo’ña and our island, and who fought tirelessly to protect CHamoru heritage and promote public safety. As mayor, he took his pledges to the pavement and always took a direct approach to problem-solving, which many appreciated.

"As a senator, he championed retirement reform, health insurance choice, and strongly supported higher wages for law enforcement officers. We will deeply miss his resilient spirit and send our heartfelt condolences to Flo, their children, and entire family.”

Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio: "I am saddened by the death of Sen. Terlaje. He was a Vietnam veteran, and his loyalty to our island and our country was the centerpiece of his leadership. As a true statesman, he earned the trust of the late Senator Angel Santos and many others inspired by the Hita legacy and their contributions to the CHamoru people. We extend our love and prayers to his wife Flo, children, grandchildren, and siblings.”

Speaker Therese Terlaje: “It is with great sadness that we received the news of the passing of former senator and mayor of Yona, Jose “Pedo” Terlaje. Senator Terlaje served in the 35th and 36th Guam Legislatures. Senator Terlaje chaired the Committee on Public Safety, Border Safety, Military and Veteran Affairs, Mayors Council, Infrastructure and Public Transit for the 35th Guam Legislature, and the Committee on Public Safety, Emergency Response, Military and Veterans Affairs, Mayors’ Council, and Public Transit for the 36th Guam Legislature.

"Senator Pedo was a wise and compassionate colleague in the Guam Legislature and one of the most experienced public servants I have had the privilege to serve with.

"In his public service, he risked his life for all of ours, as a Purple Heart Veteran, and in the Guam Police Department as a drug enforcement officer in very complex investigations and during very trying times on Guam. His service as mayor and senator also came during challenging times for Guam’s residents. We will be forever grateful that he dedicated his life to public service the way he did and set an example for generations.

"On behalf of my colleagues, we send our deepest condolences to Sen. Terlaje’s wife, children, grandchildren, and extended family, as well as his friends, colleagues, former staff, fellow veterans, and all the residents of the village of Yona.”

Sen. Sabina Flores Perez: “It is with great sadness that the village of Yoña and the island of Guam lost a dedicated public servant.

"I send heartfelt sympathies to Senator Pedo’s wife Florentina A. Terlaje and all of his family, his colleagues from the Mayor’s Council of Guam, the Guam Police Department, and all those who have lost a friend.”

Sen. Dwayne T.D. San Nicolas: We are saddened by the news of the passing of former senator and Yona mayor Jose "Pede" Terlaje.

"Through his journey in life as a leader, and family member, may we learn and understand that life is too short, but only a journey we all must take. We thank you for your service to the island and our people, and to our country. May God bless you Uncle"Pedo", and may your memory be a blessing to us all."

Sen. William Parkinson: "It is with a heavy heart and mind that I offer my sincerest condolences to the family of the late Sen. Jose “Pedo” Terlaje. He was a father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and more. For the village of Yona, he was a beloved mayor. For me, he was a friend and mentor.

"During his time as a senator, he never failed to introduce policies that bettered our island. For that, I always looked up to him. He never failed to be a passing smile, an open ear, and an open mind for those who needed him. His time in office as a legislator was one of the things that inspired me to become one.

"In my time really learning the ropes during the 2022 election, he was always very open and often let me hang around his office. Through his gracious mentorship, he allowed me to soak in the vast amounts of institutional knowledge at his command.

"I learned a tremendous amount from the office of a man who truly embodied the HITA spirit, and for that, I will always be grateful."

Sen. Chris Barnett: “Since his days with the HITA campaign, Senator “Pedo” Terlaje had always stood up for our people, our island and our culture. His passing comes too soon, and we are praying for his family during this difficult time.”

Sen. Roy Quinata: "I join the members of the Guam Legislature and the island of Guam in the mourning of former mayor and senator, Jose Toves "Pedo" Terlaje. We are deeply saddened by his passing and extend our deepest condolences to his family during this difficult time. He will be greatly missed. Rest in peace, Uncle Pedo. We will always remember your commitment and dedication to our community."

Members of the Republican caucus of the 37th Guam Legislature issued the following statements:

Sen. Frank Blas Jr.: “I’ve known Pedo for over three decades and he is a man who always did things with our people in mind. Guam has lost a great man today.”

Sen. Christopher M. Dueñas: “Pedo’s love for the community has always shined through his service as indicated in the opening of this release. Having served with him in the 36th Guam Legislature, I can attest that all that service he provided came through in his passionate discussion on the floor.”

Sen. Jesse Lujan: “Condolences to his wife Flo, their kids, grandchildren and great-grandchildren! Pedo depicts a true public servant who truly served the public til’ his very last breath. May he rest in eternal peace.”

Sen. Thomas J. Fisher: “My office and I send our condolences, prayers and love to the family of Jose “Pedo” Terlaje. I was fortunate to know him personally and call him a friend. I join the people of Guam and thank him for his service to our island. May he rest in peace.”

Sen. Telo T. Taitague: “My family and I extend our deepest condolences to the family of our dear friend and former colleague, Sen. Jose "Pedo" Terlaje. We join the People of Guam in extending to them our thoughts, prayers, and support. May the Lord bring comfort and strength to the Terlaje family during this difficult time.” -

Sen. Joanne Brown: “I first had the opportunity to work with Senator Pedo Terlaje during the administration of Governor Joseph F. Ada and Lieutenant Governor Frank Blas, 34 years ago and I am very saddened to hear of his passing barely a month after stepping down from the 36th Guam Legislature. I extend my condolences to his family.”

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