Ex-CHCC board chair passes away


Joaquin Torres

The first chairman of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.’s advisory board passed away in Hawaii yesterday after battling a lingering illness the past 10 years.

Joaquin S. Torres passed away early Monday morning, Saipan time (Sunday, 7:40am Hawaii time). According to the youngest of Torres’ six siblings, former representative William Torres, Joaquin Torres’ heart stopped at around 3am in Hawaii but he was revived for a short period before he finally succumbed at 7:40am.

“My brother has been enduring the battle…for quite a few years. He is a strong person who fought for almost 10 years,” said William Torres in an interview with Saipan Tribune.

Joaquin Torres’ wife, Dianne Verdejo, confirmed the news with Saipan Tribune in a phone call. Verdejo declined to provide more details.

CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña, who famously butted heads with the CHCC board in the past, remembers Joaquin Torres as someone who prioritized the needs of CHCC during his tenure as board chair and even beyond his term.

“We are very saddened to hear of the passing of Mr. Torres and we send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to Dianne and his family. Mr. Torres was very passionate in his role as chairman of the first CHCC board. He recognized and understood the challenges of CHCC. He wanted the best for CHCC that, even after his term as a member of the board ended, he remained one of the biggest supporters of adequate funding for CHCC. He will be missed,” said Muña.

John DelRosario, a Saipan Tribune columnist and former publisher and editor, worked with Joaquin Torres for over 10 years.

“Even before he left for Hawaii, we used to call one another up. We share discussions on important issues, and I was very fond of his sharp intellect. He was very sharp and analytical, so we threw each other ideas until we agreed or agreed to disagree. I am going to miss his wonderful intellect and wonderful sense of humor,” said DelRosario over the phone.

Joaquin Torres is survived by his three children—Joseph, Susan, and Neil—and four of his six siblings—William, Ray, Juan Torres, and Maria Torres Persson.

In addition to his many accomplishments, Joaquin Torres was also a delegate of the first CNMI Constitutional Convention back in 1975 as well as a long-time director of Labor for the CNMI. In the private sector, he was a ranking executive of TanHoldings Corp.

William Torres said that Joaquin Torres’ life would be celebrated with a Mass every morning at the Kristo Rai Parish Church at 6am and would be held until Joaquin Torres’ remains arrive, which is anticipated this weekend.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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