The influenza pandemic took a terrible toll on Samoa’s population. Over a single week, prominent businessman and community figure O.F. Nelson had lost his mother, one of his two sisters, his only brother and a daughter-in-law. S.H. Meredith lost seven close relatives. Of the 24 members of the Fono a Faipule, only seven survived the pandemic.
James Ah Sue was the son of Samoan and Chinese parents. He was educated at the Marist brothers' School at Mulivai, where his contemporaries included O.F. Nelson and S.H. Meredith.
After leaving school, Ah Sue served his apprenticeship as a reporter with Samoanische Zeitung, an Apia-based weekly newspaper established by the German administration in 1901. Later he went to Suva where he gained experience with the Fiji Times.
When the Samoa Advance Party of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force captured German Samoa on 29 August 1914, Ah Sue was back in Apia and editor of Samoanische Zeitung. After its final issue was published on 2 January 1915, he became editor and owner of its English replacement, The Samoa Times.
Unusually, the 22 November 1918 issue of The Samoa Times did not appear. The following week, the newspaper reported 'with deep regret' the death of James Ah Sue. On 15 November, he had 'published the paper in good time. Having done so, however, he collapsed, grew steadily worse day by day, and died.'
Deceased was kindliness itself and generous to the point of fault, and in these dark days of tribulation, when the revenging hand of Death has seared so many hearts, the passing of James Ah Sue touches us closely with a sense of profound pity and sorrow.
The Samoa Times, 7 December 1918, p. 3
James Ah Sue was survived by his wife and 10 children. He was 41 years old at the time of his death.