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Takai remembered as staunch UH supporter, champion of veterans, good friend

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    An honor guard carries the casket of U.S. Rep. Mark Takai to the state Capitol Rotunda as his funeral service began this morning.

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    People stand during services for the late U.S. Rep. K. Mark Takai at the state Capitol rotunda this morning.

Family, friends and colleagues gathered at the Hawaii State Capitol Thursday morning for a remembrance ceremony for deceased U.S. Congressman Mark Takai.

Takai’s casket, draped with an American flag, was escorted into the Capitol Rotunda by members of the Hawaii National Guard, where state Rep. Sylvia Luke led an hour-long ceremony.

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Gov. David Ige, Hawaii House Speaker Joseph Souki and Hawaii Senate President Ron Kouchi, and others, spoke of their fond memories of Takai, his intense work ethic, love of his family and dedication to public service.

“Mark gave us a shining example of what it means to be a responsible public servant, a caring neighbor, a loving husband, a protective father and a decent human being,” said Souki.

Ige recalled Takai’s tenacious dedication to causes related to the University of Hawaii, public education, veterans and children and families.

“It was difficult for me to accept that Mark is no longer with us,” said Ige. “I’ve truly lost a good friend and colleague.”

Takai will lie in state in the State Capitol Rotunda until 7 p.m. on Thursday, where members of the public, family and friends are invited to pay their final respects.

Takai died last month in Honolulu after a nine-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife, Sami Takai, and two teenage children.

Takai was elected to the state House of Representatives at the age of 27, where he served for 20 years. He won a seat in Congress in 2014, representing urban Oahu, and served on the House Armed Forces Committee and the House Committee on Small Business.

A champion of veterans issues, he also served in the Hawaii National Guard for 17 years and deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009.

There will be a family memorial service for Takai on Friday at the First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu at Koolau in Kaneohe. Visitation will begin at 9 a.m. and the service at 11 a.m. Aloha attire is requested, in keeping with the late congressman’s tradition of celebrating Aloha Friday.

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