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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dr. Rita Inos, 55, dies of cancer

Former Education Commissioner Dr. Rita A. Inos Former Education Commissioner Dr. Rita A. Inos passed away early yesterday morning at the Commonwealth Health Center of cancer.

Saipan Tribune learned that Inos, 55, was taken to the hospital about 2am Monday but was declared dead on arrival after doctors failed to revive her.

Her brother, Angel Hocog, confirmed with Saipan Tribune yesterday the passing of his sister, whom he described as a “very loving and caring” individual.

Hocog said Inos, a native of Rota, was temporarily staying on Saipan prior to Monday’s incident when she was rushed to the hospital.

On Saturday, her body will be transferred from CHC to the Mount Carmel Cathedral at 7:30am for public viewing. A Mass and rosary are also slated that day.

After the Mass, her remains will be flown to Rota where a Mass and interment are slated on Aug. 18 at 1:30pm.

Inos is survived by husband Cristobal Songao Inos, children Denise Lorraine and Ana Blossom, the two siblings who are based in Hawaii. Hocog said the two siblings will arrive tomorrow night.

Hocog said his sister, though not bedridden, truly suffered from her illness. Inos had been flying off-island for medical treatment.

“I have nothing to compare with her…she’s one unique sister that we have. She was very loving, caring, and open to everybody,” he said.


Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, who issued a statement yesterday upon learning of Inos’ death, said he considered her as one of his mentors.

“Dr. Rita Hocog Inos was my running mate when I first established the Covenant Party and ran for governor in 2001. Before she ran with me, she was the first female candidate for the office of Lt. Governor with the late Gov. Lorenzo I. Guerrero,” Fitial said.

“I relied on her for advice on public policy issues concerning education. This is why I chose her to be my running mate in the 2001 CNMI general elections. Our plan was for me to focus on economic development, while she handled important education issues. This is also why I nominated her to the Northern Marianas College’s Board of Regents, where she served until she passed away [yesterday],” he said, adding that Inos was committed to the cause of education in the Commonwealth and throughout the Pacific region.

Fitial described Inos as a dedicated public servant.

“I am thankful for Rita’s friendship. She was a very compassionate woman who cared very deeply for our community. She will be remembered and missed. I extend my condolences to Rita’s family. Rita was family to me,” the governor added.

Wise judgment

Inos was appointed to the Northern Marianas College Board of Regents in February 2006 and served as its chairperson from June 2006 to July last year.

Her successor to the post, Charles V. Cepeda, yesterday expressed sadness over the passing of Inos.

“During the college’s most difficult and challenging times, some of the members of the Board of Regents looked to Dr. Inos for her reassuring leadership and her wise judgment,” said Cepeda, adding that Inos was a visionary who worked tirelessly to position the college for its unprecedented growth since her appointment to the board.

NMC President Dr. Carmen Fernandez described the late educator as a great mentor.

“Dr. Inos was a great boss, mentor, and friend. I love her and will miss her dearly,” she told Saipan Tribune, adding that Inos dedicated her career to advancing educational opportunities for the people of the CNMI.

“Her passion for students was unparalleled. Her leadership roles at the college, at the Public School System, and in other organizations have created a legacy that will have a long-lasting impact on the educational landscape of the Northern Marianas,” said Fernandez, adding that NMC owes many of its accomplishments to Inos’ leadership and guidance.

Fernandez asked members of the NMC community yesterday to keep Inos in their thoughts and prayers. During a faculty assembly, she also asked faculty members for a moment of silence in honor of Inos.


Inos was the PSS Commissioner from June 1998 to December 2005. She began her education career on the islands in 1972 as a bilingual teacher at Rota and Saipan schools.

Inos obtained her doctorate from the University of Southern California and her master’s degree in school administration and supervision from the San Jose State University in California.

She obtained master’s course work in educational anthropology from the California State University and a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

She completed high school at the Arlington High School in Texas.

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