Peter Tali Coleman was born in Pago Pago, American Samoa. He enlisted in the army during World War II, rising to the rank of captain, and has been inducted into the U.S. Army Infantry Hall of Fame. After receiving his bachelor’s and law degrees from Georgetown University, he returned to the Pacific to practice law and became attorney general of the territory in 1955. The first native Samoan to be appointed by the Department of Interior as governor, he first served from 1956-1961. He was afterwards elected in American Samoa’s first local elections for Governor in 1977, being inaugurated on January 3, 1978. After American Samoa’s first 2 yr. electorate from 1978-80, Coleman succeeded in being reelected as the governor in 1980 and served from 1981-1984 during American Samoa’s first 4 yr. electorate. He was subsequently reelected to serve a second 4 yr. term from 1989-1992.
During the 1960’s-70’s he was chief executive of the Marshalls and the Marianas Islands in Micronesia; a deputy high commissioner of the Trust Territory; a counsel to the Pacific Advisory Committee of George Bush’s Fund for America’s Future; an honorary consul for the Republic of Nauru in American Samoa; and, the founding chair of American Samoa’s Republican Party. His service as governor spanned five decades. He died in Hawaii on April 28, 1997 and was survived by his wife Nora, children and relatives.