MISSOULA — Lusie Manao Samuela Weber, made her final journey from her home on Blaine Street in Missoula to the house of the Lord on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. Lusie passed in the arms of her children and loving husband of 46 years, Gerard Weber, as they read John 3:16, Psalm 23 and Psalm 25.
Lusie was born on Oct. 2, 1949, in Saolei (pronounced “Sao-lā”) in the district of Itu’ti’u Rotuma, a Polynesian island in the South Pacific governed by Fiji. Born to Garisau Resine of Lau and Semesi Samuela of Saolei, Lusie came from a chiefly family descended from the first peoples of Rotuma including the last king of Rotuma before it was governed by Fiji.
As a young student, Lusie excelled in academics, loved learning and displayed a high aptitude for mathematics and bookkeeping. Later in life, Lusie expressed a mix of joy and regret over the multiple pranks she had pulled on many classmates over the years. Lusie’s adventures in mischief are some of her grandchildren’s favorite stories.
While she was not perfectly obedient in school, her intelligence and work ethic inspired church and community leaders to offer her academic scholarships to continue her education. She sacrificed the opportunity for a higher education to help support her family and worked at Government Supplies in Walu Bay, Suva.
As a young woman, Lusie considered becoming a Catholic nun. She was praying at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Suva, Fiji, and asked the Lord to guide her. If he desired her to be married, she asked God to reveal his will. Just then, a young American Peace Corps volunteer walked into the church and lit a candle. Later, the same man came into the government supply store where Lusie worked. His name was Jerry Weber of Rogers, Minnesota. Six months later, on Jan. 9, 1971, the two were married at the same cathedral where God revealed his will to Lusie. In the next two years, they were blessed by their two eldest sons, James and Ian who were born in Suva, Fiji. Lusie and Jerry wanted their children to have opportunities uniquely afforded to Americans. The young family moved to the Northside of Missoula in 1973 and were blessed with their first daughter, Elizabeth who is named after Lusie’s sister, Sapeta.
Lusie and Jerry were profoundly influenced by parents and grandparents who worked in agricultural settings. In 1977, they decided to pursue their dream of building a small farm together. While pregnant with their second daughter, Katherine, Lusie worked side-by-side with Jerry and their three oldest children building a family home in the Sunnyside Orchards area of Stevensville. Life on the farm in Stevensville were some of Lusie’s happiest times in America.
In 1983, the family moved to Blaine Street in Missoula where they were blessed with their youngest son, Paul. Lusie called Paul “her miracle baby,” and their close relationship remained a source of hope, joy and strength for Lusie throughout her ferocious battle with cancer.
Lusie exuded qualities associated with the people of Saolei. She was known for her integrity, self-less love of family, fierce strength and indomitable work ethic. Lusie valued hospitality and making others feel heard and appreciated. She had a gift for using the fewest number of words necessary to make a meaningful statement. Lusie understood there was power in brevity. Those closest to her could feel her powerful intuition. She had a way of knowing who to help and when to offer help.
While Lusie was a very private person, she opened her home to many families and individuals over the years in need of refuge, safety, rest or a place to help them get grounded while they sorted out life. She quietly and wisely offered comfort and solutions for any situation. She was a great listener. She had a way of getting to the heart of any matter at hand.
While Lusie had spent most of her life in the United States, she expressed a deep affection and constant concern for her parents, aunts and uncles, sisters, brothers and all of her nieces, nephews and extended family in Fiji and Rotuma.
Lusie found joy in close personal relationships with her grandchildren. She showered them with love, special notes and gifts and beautifully handcrafted crocheted blankets that they cherish.
Lusie and Jerry loved fishing together at undisclosed fishing holes, picking huckleberries in the mountains around Missoula, picking cherries at Flathead Lake, playing Pinochle and Hearts, enjoying time with their grandchildren, singing, dancing, laughing and praying together. Their love is eternal. Their children and entire extended family are grateful to Jerry for his devotion, care and love for Lusie. Their marriage was a blessing to the world and together they made a positive impact on the lives of family and friends around the globe.
Lusie was preceded in death by her mother Garisau, father Semesi, sisters Sarote and Luise Katerine, brothers Pene and Emanueli and grandson Samuel Joseph Schulz. She is survived by husband Jerry Weber, son James Weber of Everett, Washington; son Ian (Dawn) Weber and children Jackie, Matthew, Abby and Anna of Northville, Michigan; daughter Elizabeth (Zeph) Schulz and children Emmett, Daniel, Jenna, Colter of Coalville, Utah; daughter Katherine (Joe) Weber-Bates and children Isalei and Kavika of Missoula; son, Paul Weber of Missoula; brother Itu (Makereta) Samuela of Missoula; sister Sisiria (Seu) Fong of Suva, Fiji; Maria (Josateki) Waqavanua of Suva Fiji; sister Elena (John) Sutton of Sidney, Australia; sister Sapeta (Edmond) Tang of Sidney, Australia; sister Joana (Dora) Samuela of Suva, Fiji and brother Fati (Alumita) Samuela of San Bruno, California, along with dozens of nieces and nephews around the world.
While we mourn her, we celebrate the values Lusie taught us. In her honor, we pursue our own personal relationships with God, we strive for authenticity, we search for worthy goals, we never forget where we came from, we help those we can when we can, we give thanks to God for all things and at all meals, we ensure children and babies eat first.
The family thanks St. Patrick Hospital ER and ICU, The International Heart Institute, Billings Clinic Cancer Center, Riverside Healthcare and Partners in Home Care for their loving and professional care of Lusie over the last six months.
A wake was held in Suva, Fiji, this week. In Montana, a private memorial service for close family members will be held later this year. In lieu of flowers, please honor Lusie by giving a loved one a hug today