In Memoriam: Remembering CAT Co-Founder and Carson Son Sai Momoli
Updated: Aug 26
Saitia “Sai” Michael Momoli passed away on July 15, 2020.
Sai was born May 14, 1953 in Hawaii, the youngest of four siblings, a sister and two brothers. His father was a veteran of the US Navy, stationed first at Barber’s Point Naval Air Station, Hawaii, then in San Diego.
After Sai’s father retired from the US Navy, their family moved to Wilmington, Calif., where he attended Wilmington Jr .High and Phineas Banning High School. Sai’s parents moved their family to the City of Carson and Sai has been a Carson resident since 1969.
Sai joined and served in the US Army during the Vietnam War. He was employed by Pacific Bell and the US Postal Agency. It was at the postal agency that Sai became active in the labor union and was elected as the American Postal Workers Union Director/ Clerk-Craft, managing more than 25 shop stewards. This was perhaps the starting point of his community activism. In the early ‘70s, Sai joined the United Samoan Organization, (USO), Omai Fa’atasi (Come Together) and SAIA (Samoan Athletes In Action), because he felt the need to support the movement to be a voice to the issues of discrimination and the high rate of school dropouts the Samoan youths were facing as an underserved minority group.
This concern led later on to the creation of PASS, (Pacific American Student Services), which collaborated with Carson High School to address those issues and to provide mentoring services, tutoring, and career counseling with organized visits to the different university campuses.
He actively supported the early days of the Office of Samoan Affairs, with June Viena Pouesi, and the Samoan Federation of Samoa, with Chief Pele Faletogo. Sai was a Board Member of the City of Torrance’s Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) that launched a program designed specifically for the Samoan community, called STEP - Samoan Training and Employment Program, in partnership with the State of Hawaii, with support from the City of Carson.
Sai mentored many young adults and youths who were unable to get good paying jobs due to lack of skills and financial difficulties to get proper job training. Sai became an avid advocate for the STEP program and many graduates to this day are employed both in the public service and private industries and in the medical fields as well.
He volunteered at the Carson Sheriff ’s Station Gang Unit with Sgt. Kaono and under Captain Todd Rogers with the Carson Sheriff ’s Foundation, and later with Captain Jason Skeen. He was always concerned about gang activities and wanted to provide alternatives to that lifestyle by encouraging kids to look at apprenticeship programs, or staying in school, often talking to the parents.
Sai loved his City of Carson and was a founding member of Carson Accountability and Transparency (CAT). He was also the Chairman of the Carson Commission on Advanced Technology and Innovation.
Although his health declined over the years it certainly did not deter him from his community activities. He was passionate about his public service and for the people he helped along the way.
Sai leaves behind his wife, Jackie, five children, seven grandchildren, a sister, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and extended families from the Pacific Islands of Guam, Hawaii, Samoa and New Zealand.
The members of Carson Accountability & Transparency are mourning the loss of our friend and co-founder and send our deepest condolences to his friends and family during this time. It was an honor and a privilege to work with Sai to help improve the lives of the residents in the City he loved so much, and more so to be able to call him a friend. His passing is a major loss for the City of Carson and the region as a whole. May he rest in peace.