Time stopped Saturday afternoon last week when the news that La’auli Alan Grey was gone arrived.
It stopped so that Samoa could say goodbye to the man who’d helped build the nation to what is it today.
Everyone knew Alan Grey. They all knew that he had no ill-feelings against anyone. Instead, they all knew he cared.
His generosity was legendary, he was unassumingly kind, and above all, he will always be remembered as the man who did not know how to say: “No!”
Alan’s mother, Aggie Grey, is legend.
History will keep reminding that her first hotel, called Aggie Grey’s Hotel, was a wooden building on Beach Road.
That was where Alan Grey started working during the 70’s and 80’s.
And what did he do?
He helped run the family business, and along the way, he saw new opportunities, one of which was the dream to establish, the Grey Investment Group.
It was around 1900 though, that the wooden building which was the hotel’s original site was removed, and on the site was built the International Hotel, which is today called, Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalows.
And now, according to a company report on the Internet called Our History, the company’s future at the time, was without a doubt, heading in the right direction.
Says the report: “Over the years, the Hotel has been developed and modernised, and will now undergo a $25m USD complete make-over.”
It goes on to say: “The Group has since become one of Samoa’s largest employers outside of government, providing valuable jobs and opportunities for the community.”
Still, La’auli Alan Grey’s contribution to Samoa’s development as a nation, is not limited in any way, to that which his family’s hotel business has been providing over the years.
Indeed, his company, Grey Investment Group, has been an unrelentingly staunch supporter of Samoan Rugby since the early 1970’s, and it has remained so to this day.
A reporter at one time, wrote that even the Samoan Prime Minister, can be quoted as having said: “The truth about Alan Grey … Rugby wouldn’t exist in Samoa today without him…”
He wrote: “Alan Grey has spent millions of his own money to fund Manu Samoa in the past.”
He also said: “Alan Grey was installed as the National coach in the 1970’s, and he helped the Samoan Rugby Team to some great successes.”
And apparently, there were others who teamed up with Alan Grey, to help Manu Samoa along in their fight, to be taken seriously by the Rugby World.
Said the report: “Behind the scenes the group collectively helped finance Samoan Rugby, until it became professional with the formation of Manu Samoa Rugby Limited.”
“This was helped by the Fay Richwhite Merchant Bank, Grey Investment Group, and the Samoan Rugby Union.”
The reporter also said: “The Group has spent millions sponsoring Samoan Rugby over the years and they are proud of where it is at today.”
But then, unbeknown to many perhaps, La’auli Alan Grey was a devout Catholic with his loving wife, Marina Grey, who lived a life of giving.
“He donated on a monthly basis to the Little Sisters of the Poor, and many other charitable causes,” the report said.
“In business, La’auli helped many local businesses that turned to him in their hour of need.”
Indeed, “despite his influence and success though, he was very low key, and extremely private,” the report also said.
Still, there are others who are in need, of Alan’s help.
For instance, there are those who are now waiting on the road for Alan’s red Ford pickup, that would give them a ride up or down Tiavai Road.
And so, we want to say: “Please be warned.”
There’s a chance now that you’d have to wait for a long, long time since Alan is gone.
As for those hungry dogs who’re waiting for the sound of his truck to drive up Tiavi Road, I suppose they too will just have to howl all night, as they’re calling out to him: “Please come home!”
And now lastly, when the Samoa Observer’s printing plant was destroyed by arson, that night in 1994, La’auli Alan Grey was the first person to offer his sympathy, his encouragement, and indeed a monetary donation.
That was the person he was.
He had no ill will against anyone.
La’auli Alan Grey is gone.
Tofa Alan. Ia manuia lau malaga.