Courtesy Olelo Community Media
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the late U.S. Rep. Mark Takai “a true patriot” during services for the late Hawaii congressman this morning at the state Capitol.
Takai’s body will lie in state today at the state Capitol courtyard, where visitors can pay respects until 7 p.m.
Public viewing will begin following a short program that began 10 a.m., and a book of condolence will be available for the public to sign. The ceremony was attended by many local leaders, including Takai’s colleagues in Congress, Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
Takai died July 20 in Honolulu, nine months after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 49.
Takai was born and raised on Oahu and attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he served as student body president, was editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, Ka Leo O Hawaii, and was a champion swimmer. While there, he earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science and a master’s degree in public health.
A Democrat, he was elected at age 27 to the state House of Representatives, where he served for 20 years before winning a seat in Congress in 2014, representing urban Oahu. He served on the House Armed Forces Committee and the House Committee on Small Business.
Takai, who championed veterans issues throughout his career, also served in the Hawaii National Guard for 17 years and deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009.
In her brief remarks today, Pelosi read from President Barack Obama’s statement issued on the day Takai died.
Obama said Takai leaves behind “a legacy of courage, of service, and of hope.”
“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,” said Obama. “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.”
Takai is survived by his wife, Sami Takai, their children Matthew, 14, and Kaila, 13, and parents Erik and Naomi.
The public is advised that there will be no public parking at the state Capitol today, but the following locations will be open:
» Lot G, 115 Punchbowl St. (Kalanimoku Building); enter from Beretania or Punchbowl streets.
» Lot L, 1250 Punchbowl St. (Kinau Hale); enter from Punchbowl Street, makai-bound only.
» Lot D, 465 S. King St.; enter from King or Punchbowl streets.
» City Civic Center, located at Alapai and Beretania streets.
» Alii Place, 1099 Alakea St.
» Handicapped-accessible parking will be available at Lot F, 364 S. King St. (Iolani Palace). Enter from King Street, the driveway between Iolani Palace and the Hawaii State Library.
The memorial service is scheduled for Friday at the First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu at Koolau, 45-550 Kionaole Road in Kaneohe. Visitation will begin at 9 a.m.; the service is at 11.
In keeping with the late congressman’s tradition of celebrating Aloha Friday on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, the family requests participants to dress in aloha attire.
Overflow parking is at Hawaii Pacific University, Hawaii Loa Campus, 45-045 Kamehameha Highway. Shuttle service will be provided.