JCRP and FSM mourn loss of trusted adviser to decades of Micronesian leaders

The late Mr. Stovall (left) with FSM President David Panuelo (right). Photo: Richard Clark.


WASHINGTON, DC: With heavy heart we have the sad duty to inform of the untimely and sudden passing of a towering figure in the history of the Federated States of Micronesia, Mr. James T. Stovall, III. Mr. Stovall passed away unexpectedly on April 27, 2023, near his home in Shepherdstown, West Virginia at the age of 85.

Mr. Stovall provided FSM with legal counsel for more than 50 years beginning with his work for the Micronesian Committee on Future Political Status and Transition (CFPST) in the early 1970s. Mr. Stovall had served as legal adviser for negotiations on the original Compact of Free Association agreement concluded in 1986, the Amended Compact concluded in 2003, and to the current negotiations for the next chapter in the Compact relationship. In addition, Mr. Stovall was instrumental in securing the FSM’s membership in the United Nations in 1991 and was a key member of the FSM delegation to the UN and affiliated conferences and negotiations.

Mr. Stovall was a steadfast advocate for climate justice and served as representative of the FSM to, and co-chair of, the working group on adaptation of the International Negotiating Committee for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change prior to its signature in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Mr. Stovall continued to provide climate-related advice and counsel to the FSM on climate issues ever since.

Born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1937, Mr. Stovall earned his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Alabama. He served in the U.S. military in Korea and Germany as member of the JAG Corps (Judge Advocate General’s Corps). After his service he joined the influential Washington, DC law firm of Clifford & Warnke. He was designated by the firm to provide legal advice to the Micronesian Status Negotiations beginning in 1972 through signing of the Compact in 1986. Mr. Stovall continued to serve as chief legal advisor to the FSM during negotiations on the Amended Compact, which concluded in 2003, and continued as an adviser to the JCRP in its current discussions with the United States on extension of expiring provisions of the Compact beyond 2023. Mr. Stovall also served as trusted adviser to all nine FSM Presidents, from first FSM President Tosiwo Nakayama in 1979 through current President David Panuelo.

Mr. Stovall leaves behind his wife of 60 years, LouAnn, along with two daughters and three grandchildren. The Stovalls were long-time residents of the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, and later of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where he and Mrs. Stovall resided at the time of Mr. Stovall’s passing.

“I have struggled to accept Jim’s sudden passing—I am shocked and devastated. Jim touched the lives of people of Micronesia through his unwavering dedication to helping FSM gain recognition on the world stage. He earned the respect and trust of leaders of my country through his more than 50 years of professional counseling,” said Asterio Takesy, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Compact Review and Planning (JCRP). “Mr. Stovall walked away from a Washington, DC-based prestigious law firm to help a tiny newborn state, the Federated States of Micronesia, grow into what it is today; he cared deeply for the people and fell in love with Micronesia.”

Chairman Takesy has worked with Mr. Stovall on negotiations with the US on the original Compact, the Amended Compact and on current talks on expiring terms of the agreement.

Driven by his desire to assist in building capacity of the young FSM nation, Mr. Stovall mentored several generations of Micronesian lawyers and government officials during his service and continued to do so until his passing.

Mr. Stovall was a prominent figure in Micronesian history whose contributions were sometimes overlooked due to his humility and the efficiency of his work.

Without exception, those who knew Mr. Stovall often found him to be the epitome of the stereotypical southern gentleman lawyer. He could be thorny in his defense of the FSM and its positions, when needed, but most will remember him as a kind, gentle man whose heartfelt love for his family and friends, the FSM, the Micronesian people, and the planet never wavered.

Mr. Stovall treasured time spent with family and friends during his travels to Micronesia and at his home in West Virginia.

Current FSM Compact Negotiator Leo A. Falcam, Jr. stated, “Jim was a dear friend and staunch advocate of the FSM for decades. It is hard to adequately describe his true value and friendship to our Nation. His passing is a monumental loss not just to his loving wife and family, but also as an integral and valuable part of our JCRP team. This is a sad day indeed.”

The FSM Government, the Embassy of the FSM in Washington and the JCRP wish to extend their thanks and appreciation to Mr. Stovall for his years of dedicated service and convey their heartfelt condolences to Mr. Stovall’s family and friends for their loss.

Families and friends who may wish to leave a condolence message may do so using the online form at the FSM Embassy in DC website at https://fsmembassy.fm/contact-us/, email the Embassy directly at dcmission@fsmembassy.fm, or using the comments on this page. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked donations be made in Mr. Stovall’s memory to the Micronesian Conservation Trust or to Prostate Cancer Research at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

Mr. Stovall (far left) at dinner with JCRP team members during Compact discussions in Washington in March 2023. Photo: Kemsky Sigrah.
Mr. Stovall (far left) at dinner with JCRP team members during Compact discussions in Washington in March 2023. Photo: Kemsky Sigrah.