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1939 William 2024

William Fruean

January 23, 1939 — April 21, 2024


Dr. William “Bill” Fruean, 85, of Indianapolis, IN (formerly of Mililani, HI and Apia, Samoa) passed away peacefully surrounded by family on April 21, 2024. Bill was born on January 23, 1939 to William Pusaloa Fruean and Esther Crichton in Faleula, Apia, Samoa.

With only an equivalent of an 8th grade education, he went to Hawai’i wanting to enter college and become a doctor because of the lack of adequate medical care in Samoa. Despite lacking a high school diploma or its equivalent, Bill convinced the Church College of Hawai’i (now Brigham Young University) to enroll him. He worked jobs as a custodian, an entertainer at the Polynesian Cultural Center and a pineapple picker with Dole Cannery in order to support himself through school. Bill graduated in 1965 with a BS in Chemistry and Physics. In 1965, he joined the United States Air Force and was stationed in Arizona.

Moonlighting as a fire knife dancer at a Polynesian dinner show, he met the late Patricia Rose Richards, a nurse, and they married in 1966. They went on to have three children: Lisa, Christine, and William. The family was eventually stationed back in Hawai’i. In 1977, Bill graduated from the University of Hawai’i John A. Burns School of Medicine. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Air Force, he went on to join the Army Reserve and opened his private practice so that he could serve and care for the Polynesian people of Hawai’i. He also ran a long-standing Samoan language radio show in Honolulu that educated the Samoan people on various health topics. After retiring from the Army Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1999, Bill moved with Patricia and his mother-in-law, whom he helped care for, to Indiana to be closer to their children and grandchildren in 2008.

Throughout his life, Bill enjoyed many hobbies. He loved diving and was a SCUBA instructor, once even assisting law enforcement in Mississippi with recovery of a child who had drowned. He also loved photography and videography and often drove his family crazy with constant filming–however, these videos and photos have become dear, treasured memories. He was proud to be Polynesian and a Veteran of two branches of the military. Though retired, he remained active, lending his talents and knowledge to Indy Hula, a cultural organization in Indianapolis founded to perpetuate Polynesian culture. Known affectionately as “Papa” in this stage of life, he embodied the Aloha spirit, never knowing a stranger and accepting and loving people from all walks of life. Most of all, he enjoyed being together with his family. Bill, Papa, Dad–you are dearly missed and loved. Bill was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Patrica Rose Fruean.

He is survived by his children: Dr. Lisa Smith (Peter) of Indianapolis, IN, Christine Pagan (Richard) of Dinwiddie, VA, and William Fruean (Saba) of Long Beach, CA; and his grandchildren: Dillon and Dr. Victoria Smith, and Marina, Richard, Tabitha, and Christian Pagan. Interment at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawai’i will occur at a later date.
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