Hyrum Rex Lee

Gov. Hyrum Rex Lee

American Samoa

May 28, 1977 - January 3, 1978

April 8, 1910

July 26, 2001

Federally-Appointed Civilian

University of Idaho

Birth State

Married, five children


H. REX LEE was born April 8, 1910, in Rigby, Idaho. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from University of Idaho in 1936. Between 1936 and 1942, Lee worked as an economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. From March 1942 to June 1946, he held several posts with the War Relocation Authority. In 1946 Lee transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior as assistant chief of the Office of Territories and served in that position until 1950. In 1949 he was consultant on loan to the United Nations and spent three months traveling in the Near East, conferring with the Arab and Israeli leaders to assist Arab refugees displaced by the Israeli-Arab war. From 1950 until becoming Governor of American Samoa in 1961, he was associate commissioner and deputy commissioner of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. After six years as governor, Lee was appointed as assistant administrator of the Agency for International Development in the State Department. In 1968 he was appointed as a member of the Federal Communications Commission, serving until December 1973. He was the last appointed governor of the territory and served from May 24, 1961, to July 31, 1967; and from January 3, 1978, to May 28, 1977.  Governor Lee is credited with establishing a new airport, new harbor facilities, new roads and luxury hotels to promote American Samoa’s tourist industry. He passed away in La Jolla, California, on July 26, 2001.