The Federated States of Micronesia lost one of its statesman and a well-known goodwill ambassador. Bermin F. Weilbacher passed away last week in Thailand where he was receiving medical treatment for an ailment.
Born in Kosrae by a Kosraen mother and a half Pohnpeian/German father, Weilbacher attended Our Lady of Mercy School in Kolonia, Pohnpei before promoting to Pacific Island Central School, the only secondary high school in the region.
After high school, he received a scholarship to study at East-West Center at the University of Hawaii where he received a degree in Agricultural Economics. It was at East-West Center where Bermin met his future wife Penny, a Thai student who was also studying there. After completing their college education, the newly wed couple moved to Thailand where Bermin worked for a private company while Penny raised their children. In early 1970, he was offered a job on Saipan at the Agriculture Department in the old TTPI government. He moved to Saipan and quickly rose through the ranks to become the director of the Department of Agriculture. From there, he was appointed deputy district administrator for Ponape island, and later became Distad.
While on Saipan, Bermin made many friends through his contacts with the local community. He helped farmers increased their crop production by introducing new methods of raising crops. He was also instrumental in the flame tree project on airport road. An avid tennis player, he often partnered with the late businessman Jose “Joeten” Tenorio and former governor Benigno Fitial. But, what made Bermin more well-known while living here was his ability to entertain friends and guests. With his ever-present ukulele, Bermin would serenade the partygoers with songs he learned while studying in Hawaii. His favorite song was entitled “Tiny Bubbles” by the late Hawaiian idol Don Ho. Along with his friend David Sablan Sr. and, sometimes with the late Louis Limes, the trio would serenade the partygoers until the beer ran out. For Bermin, singing songs that everyone can join in was the ultimate satisfaction of a night out. So, he played mostly island music to make everyone feel part of the crowd.
Bermin held several high profile positions in the newly established FSM government before he retired from government service in the mid-1990s. His last job was as the chief of staff for President Bailey Olter. Bermin is survived by his wife Penny, two daughters, and three sons. His remains will arrive on Pohnpei on Wednesday for a traditional burial, as he held one of the highest titles ever bestowed on a commoner by the Nanmwarkis of the five kingdoms of Pohnpei.