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Condolences pour in from around the country for Takai

  • STAR-ADVERTISER FILE / NOV. 2014

    K. Mark Takai, along with his wife Sami and children Kaila and Matthew, celebrated with an excited crowd at the Democratic Party election night headquarters in the Japanese Cultural Center in Honolulu after his opponent Charles Djou conceded the race for the 1st Congressional District seat on Nov. 4, 2014.

From Hawaii to Washington, former colleagues and friends of U.S. Rep. K. Mark Takai expressed their condolences to the family of the longtime island lawmaker. Here are some of the many statements issued after Takai’s death today from pancreatic cancer:

President Barack Obama: “Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Representative Mark Takai today. Mark was always a fighter. It’s the spirit he brought to more than two decades of public service on behalf of the people of Hawaii. He stood up for America’s most vulnerable. He championed our troops and veterans, and proudly wore our nation’s uniform. And his relentless push for cancer research inspired countless Americans fighting the same battle as him. Simply put, our country is better off because of Mark’s contributions. He leaves a legacy of courage, of service, and of hope. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mark’s wife, Sami, their two children, and his many friends and family.”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton: “Mark was everything a public servant should be. He spent his entire life in service of his state and his country — from the Hawaii Army National Guard to the Hawaii State House to the House of Representatives — fighting to make sure veterans and their families are supported, supporting ambitious steps to protect his state and our planet from the perils of climate change, and championing the rights of Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian communities. I am grateful to Mark for his friendship and deeply honored to have earned his support. “

Gov. David Ige: “Today, the people of Hawaii mourn the passing of U.S. Rep. Mark Takai. He proudly served his country in uniform, including 17 years with the Hawaii Army National Guard. Mark humbly and effectively served the people of his state House and Congressional districts. In the often tumultuous world of politics, he has been a shining example of what it means to be a public servant. While we will deeply feel the loss of Mark Takai in the public arena, we cannot forget that he was a family man first. His wife, children and extended family will miss him every moment from this day on. Dawn and I extend our deepest sympathies to Sami, Matthew and Kaila. Your husband and father was a man of principle and goodwill. Thank you for sharing him with the citizens of Hawaii.”

U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono: “I affectionately called Mark my younger brother. We shared so many of the same values and supported each other during challenging times. Mark’s passing is a tremendous loss for all of us who loved him, and for the state of Hawaii. But he said it best: ‘As often happens, we find ourselves on a different journey than we had planned.’ While we find that our journey is not as bright without Mark, we will continue his work to make Hawaii a better place.”

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz: “This is the deepest of losses and one that I feel very personally because of my friendship with Mark. Throughout his life, he was all about serving the people of Hawaii. He gave so much, and had so much more yet to give. … This is a sad day for all of Hawaii.”

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: “I’m deeply saddened today as we mourn the passing of my friend, colleague, and fellow soldier, Congressman Mark Takai. I’m grateful to have known and worked with Mark for over a decade. … Mark’s smiling face and ready laugh will truly be missed, but the impact that he made through his life of service to the people of Hawaii will always be remembered.”

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan: “I am saddened by the passing of our colleague, Mark Takai. He was an exemplary soldier, public servant and beloved member of the House of Representatives. His love for Hawaii and the people he represented was evident every day.”

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell: “I was lucky to have worked with Mark in the State House and the commitment and dedication he had for his country, his state and Hawaii’s many diverse communities was obvious to all. Whether on deployment with the Hawaii Army National Guard, debating national security issues in Congress, or simply providing a helping hand for various community projects, Mark served with vigor and energy, and his presence and sound reasoning will be sorely missed.”

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi: “Congressman Mark Takai was a good, kind, gentle man. He was an admirable father and husband, and a humble servant leader. Mark was a champion athlete and a champion for the people of Hawaii.”

University of Hawaii President David Lassner: “The University of Hawaii lost an extraordinary member of our ohana today. Everyone associated with UH will always remember Rep. K. Mark Takai as not only a dedicated public servant and family man, but also as a proud and highly engaged UH Manoa graduate. Mark was a championship swimmer for UH Manoa, ASUH student government president and editor-in-chief of the Ka Leo student newspaper. Everyone who knew him on the Manoa campus knew he was destined for great things. And, as he advanced in his career, Mark continued to be a passionate supporter of higher education and the University of Hawaii.”

Hawaii Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald: “He was a true public servant in every sense of the word — from serving our country in the Hawaii Army National Guard, representing Aiea/Pearl City in the state Legislature for 20 years, and carrying the aloha spirit to the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Takai was also a strong supporter of the Hawaii State Judiciary’s Veterans Treatment Court and its outreach efforts. He went out of his way to consistently recognize and encourage the participants, team members, and mentors involved in this program.”

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui: “Mark was an admirable public servant and a champion on issues important to his district and the people of Hawaii. As a fellow University of Hawaii alumnus, I appreciated his strong advocacy and support for the University, especially the athletics program that played such a prominent role in his life. I’ve had the privilege of working with Mark at the Legislature and am honored to have been able to call him a friend.”

Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi: “Congressman Takai advocated tirelessly for funding and resources to help the Department’s efforts in providing quality education for all children. Mark was also a proud public school graduate of Pearl City High. He was a role model and remains an example of leadership and service to communities.”

State House Speaker Joseph Souki: “Mark was a thoughtful and caring public servant and a good friend to all us in the State House. To say that he will be missed is not just a cliche but a heavy and sad reality. As much as Mark had accomplished in his full life, there was so much more he wanted to do and would have done—for himself and his family, and for all us here in Hawaii.”

HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira: “Mark was a champion of the middle class starting with his days in the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii, throughout his days in our State Legislature and in the United States Congress. The HGEA has lost a dedicated member.”

Retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, president of the National Guard Association of the United States: “This is news that saddens all members of NGAUS, but particularly the staff in our Washington, D.C., headquarters where Mark was well-known and respected through his frequent visits over the years, never forgetting to bring with him chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. He was a serious and dedicated member of Congress, who brought the right approach to the job.”

Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., head of U.S. Pacific Command: “Rep. Takai was a man of tremendous character who served our nation in Congress and in uniform. As a principled leader and person of character, he was a powerful and respected voice for the Pacific-based military community. On a personal level, I will miss his infectious enthusiasm and sense of duty. When I testified before the House Armed Services Committee, I knew I had to be well prepared — he was a tough, but fair, questioner who always had our nation’s interests at heart. I learned a lot from him and will miss his advice and counsel. Our nation owes much to his bravery, honor, and dedication. Truly, it was a pleasure to work with him and even better to know him.”

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