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FSM mourns death of fifth president, Leo Falcam

POHNPEI (Kaselehie Press/Pacnews) — The Federated States of Micronesia was in mourning earlier this month after its fifth president, Leo Falcam, passed away on the evening of Feb. 12 at the age of 82.

Leo FalcamLeo Falcam
President Peter Christian declared a national mourning period with the national flag flown at half-mast. A memorial service was held at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Awak, followed by a state funeral at the former president’s home in Awak.

“It is with profound sadness that I announce to this nation and its peoples the passing of a great leader, statesman, and a dedicated and true public servant, the former president of the Federated States of Micronesia, His Excellency Leo A. Falcam,” President Christian’s proclamation said. “The late President Falcam served this nation as a passionate, colorful and vibrant public servant in many highly respected positions of leadership.”

The late President Falcam was born on Nov. 20, 1935 in Awak. After graduating from the University of Hawaii in 1962, Falcam started his public service career as a teacher in Pohnpei. From 1962 to 1964, Falcam joined the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands government headquarters in Saipan, Mariana Islands, as the political affairs officer for the TTPI high commissioner.

In 1964, Falcam was appointed as the assistant district administrator for Pohnpei. The following year he left for Princeton University in New Jersey where he completed his fellowship studies at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Administration and International affairs. In 1966 he returned to the Trust Territory government and served as the executive officer for the Office of the High Commissioner, and in his capacity as the executive officer, became the first Micronesian to serve as the acting high commissioner for the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

In 1972, Falcam became the first Pohnpeian to serve as the Pohnpei district administrator. Three years later, he was elected as a delegate to the first Micronesian Constitutional Convention, and was the chairman of the Pohnpei delegation to the convention.

In 1976, he was appointed to head, and assigned to establish the first Micronesian Washington Office in Washington, D.C.

In May 1979, Falcam was elected as the first governor of Pohnpei under the newly formed constitutional state government.

In 1983, he was elected as a delegate and served as the chairman of Pohnpei State’s first constitutional convention.

In 1987, he was elected as the at-large member of the Fifth FSM Congress representing Pohnpei state where he served as chairman and vice chairman of several standing committees.

He served as the vice president of the Federated States of Micronesia from May 1997 to May 1999 and became the Fifth President of the FSM in May of 1999 and served until 2003.

“The late President Falcam served this nation with distinction, and unquestionable leadership and integrity, and he shall be remembered as one of the founding fathers of our nation, and the framers of the FSM Constitution,” President Christian’s proclamation said. “This proclamation bears the heartfelt condolences of the people of the entire nation to the family, relatives, friends and colleagues of the late President Falcam, whose memory reflects not only his great accomplishments as a national leader but also his kindness to his fellow citizens,” President Christian said.