Congressman Mark Takai dies after battle with pancreatic cancer
Congressman Mark Takai, Representative of Hawaii's 1st Congressional District has died.
HONOLULU - Congressman Mark Takai, Representative of Hawaii's 1st Congressional District has died. He was 49 years old and had been battling pancreatic cancer. The late congressman's office just released this statement:
Today, Congressman Mark Takai passed away at home, surrounded by family. Takai represented Hawaii's 1st District in the U.S. House of Representatives during the 114th Congress and spent 20 years serving in the Hawaii State House of Representatives. In Congress Takai served as the Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business's Subcommittee on Contracting and the Workforce in addition to being a member of the House Committee on Armed Services.
The Takai family thanks the people of Hawaii for their support during this difficult time. Information regarding a service will be available at a later time. The Takai family politely asks for the continued respect of their family's privacy.
In May, Takai announced that he would not seek re-election due to his on-going fight with cancer. He was elected to the Congressional seat in 2014.
Takai joined the Hawai'i Army National Guard on July 19, 1999. He was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009. His military specialty was as a Preventative Medical Officer. His major awards included the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Pres. Barack Obama released the following statement:
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.
Gov. David Ige released the following statement:
Today, the people of Hawai'i mourn the passing of U.S. Rep. Mark Takai. He proudly served his country in uniform, including 17 years with the Hawai'i 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 Hawai'i.
Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui released the following statement:
It is with a heavy heart that I send my sincere condolences to the family of Congressman Mark Takai. 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. During this difficult time, my thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sami and their two children. He will be dearly missed.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell released the following statement:
Upon hearing this sad news, my immediate thoughts were with Mark and his entire family. 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 Hawai'i's many diverse communities was obvious to all. Whether on deployment with the Hawai'i 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. On behalf of everyone at the City and County of Honolulu, I send my condolences and love to Mark's wife Sami, their two children Matthew and Kaila, and his parents Erik and Naomi.
Hawai'i County Mayor Billy Kenoi released the following statement:
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 Hawai'i. Our aloha goes out to his wife Sami, son Matthew and daughter Kaila. Mark’s loss is a big loss for all of us who call Hawai'i home.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the following statement:
The loss of Congressman Mark Takai will be felt keenly from Washington to Honolulu. 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. My thoughts and prayers are with Mark's family and friends, and especially with his wife Sami and his children Matthew and Kaila.
Sen. Brian Schatz released the following statement:
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 Hawai'i. He gave so much, and had so much more yet to give. My condolences to his wife Sami, his children, his parents, and his whole ohana, whose pride and support meant everything to Mark. This is a sad day for all of Hawai'i.
Sen. Mazie Hirono released the following statement:
Mark Takai was a devoted public servant who was committed to bettering our state and country in public office for more than two decades. He also gave back to his community as a celebrated champion collegiate swimmer, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Hawaii Army National Guard who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and a devoted family man.
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. My thoughts and aloha go to his wife Sami, his children Matthew and Kaila, and the Takai ohana.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard released the following statement:
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. With a servant's heart, full of aloha, he dedicated his life to serving the people of Hawai'i and our nation, in the Hawai'i State Legislature, in the Hawai'i Army National Guard, and in Congress. I had the good fortune of serving with Mark in all three of these capacities, and saw firsthand that no matter where he was, he always kept his service to Hawai'i's people at the forefront of his actions. 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 Hawai'i will always be remembered. My heart and prayers are with Sami, Matthew, Kaila, and all of Mark's family and loved ones during this difficult time.
Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen released the following statement:
I was saddened to learn of the passing of my colleague Congressman Mark Takai. Mark publically discussed his pancreatic cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment at the Democratic Policy Conference in Baltimore in January. There was a very touching moment at the policy conference when Vice President Biden stepped off the stage to embrace Mark after he shared news of his diagnosis. Mark then thanked Vice President Biden for his leadership on the Cancer Moonshot initiative to find a cure for cancer. Mark continued to serve in Congress while undergoing treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Mark Takai served Hawaii and the United States of America admirably for more than 20 years as a Hawaii State Representatives and U.S. Congressman. He will be greatly missed.
Hawai'i House Speaker Joe Souki remembered the late congressman:
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 cliché 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. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Sami and their children Matthew and Kaila and all of the Takai ohana in this very difficult time.
The Hawai'i State Senate released the following statement:
Our hearts our heavy today as we mourn the passing of U.S. Rep. K. Mark Takai.
Through his service in the Hawai'i Army National Guard, as a State Representative and as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Takai embodied selflessness, honor and duty - the best of what it means to be a public servant. Congressman Takai served the constituents in his district and the state with integrity and demonstrated the tenants of aloha as a son of Hawai'i.
During this difficult time, we send our deepest sympathy and aloha paumako to the Takai family.
Honolulu Councilwoman Kymberly Marcos Pine issued the following statement:
Congressman Mark Takai was a dear friend and supporter in the legislature. I am deeply saddened and in sorrow over his death. As a fellow military spouse, I am grieving for his family's loss. The Takai family has sacrificed so much during his service in the military, the Hawaii State Legislature and Congress. Today we join hands in mourning the loss of a husband, father, patriot, legislator and mentor to many. He will forever be remembered for his bravery and honorable service to our state and country.
Democratic Party of Hawai'i Chair Tim Vandeverr released the following statement:
The Democratic Party of Hawai'i is deeply saddened by today's passing of Congressman K. Mark Takai. Congressman Takai's honorable service to our state and country as an officer in the Hawai'i National Guard, twenty-year member of Hawai'i's State House of Representatives, and U.S. Congressman will leave an enduring legacy. Mark will forever be a member of Hawaii's Democratic 'ohana and we send our aloha and support to the Takai family, friends, and supporters during this difficult time.
Former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa released the following statement:
I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my friend and colleague, Mark Takai. We have lost a great public servant who dedicated his life to making Hawaii and our nation a better place. We will miss him dearly. Please join me in sending our thoughts and heartfelt aloha to Sami, Matthew, Kaila and the rest of the Takai ohana.
Former Congressman Charles Djou issued the following statement:
My wife, Stacey, and I send our condolences to Mark's family -- his wife, Sami, and his children Matthew and Kaila. Mark had a heart to serve our community and our country. We thank him and his family for the incredible contributions and sacrifices they have made. I consider it an honor and privilege to have known Mark as a fellow Army veteran and to have served with him in the Legislature. His family has been, and will continue to remain in mine and my wife's thoughts and prayers.
Commander of U.S. PACOM Adm. Harry Harris released the following statement:
On behalf of all the 380,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Coastguardsmen, and civilians that comprise U.S. Pacific Command, I join the people of Hawaii in mourning the passing of U.S. Rep. and Lieutenant Colonel Mark Takai. He'll be missed by the entire PACOM ohana.
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.
Bruni and I extend our deepest condolences and prayers to his family -- Sami, Matthew and Kaila.
Retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, the president of the National Guard Association of the United States, released the following statement:
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. We worked closely with him as a state lawmaker and as a member of the House of Representatives. A life member of our association, Mark was instrumental in organizing the NGAUS annual conference in Honolulu in 2013, and was the recipient of several NGAUS awards, including the Charles Dick Medal of Merit in 2004, the Patrick Henry Award in 2006 and the Distinguished Service Medal in 2011.
Our thoughts are now with his wife, Sami, and his two children. They will feel this loss most dearly, but it is also a loss for our association, the National Guard and the U.S. Congress.
University of Hawai'i President David Lassner released the following statement:
The University of Hawai'i lost an extraordinary member of our 'ohana today. Everyone associated with UH will always remember Representative 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 Hawai'i.
After graduating from UH Manoa and before his election to Congress, Mark committed to serving our nation and our state in the Hawai'i Army National Guard and in the State House, where he served for 20 years. As the chair of the Committee on Higher Education, he worked especially closely with UH leadership to advance the university.
Representative Takai was a role model for many, and all of us will miss him personally and professionally.
Our hearts go out to his parents Erik and Naomi, his wife Sami, also a member of our UH 'ohana, his children Kaila and Matthew and the rest of his family and friends. We thank them all for sharing him with us and we grieve together, knowing that we are all better for having known and worked with Representative K. Mark Takai.
University of Hawai'i Athletics Director David Matlin released the following statement:
Our dear friend Mark Takai was a beloved member of the University of Hawai'i Athletics 'ohana and proud UH Manoa alumnus. His association with UH Athletics spanned four decades beginning as a four-year letterman for our swim team from 1985–89 where he was a Western Athletic Conference champion as part of the 4×100 medley relay. Throughout his life, Mark was one of our biggest supporters through his involvement with Associated Students of the University of Hawai'i, Athletics Advisory Board, Letterwinners Club and as an elected official, where he tirelessly worked for the betterment of our student-athletes and sports programs.
In 2012, the Letterwinners Club recognized Mark with the Kane Fernandez Award for his unselfish support of UH Athletics in the community. On behalf of the UH Athletics Department, our thoughts and prayers are with Mark’s family and friends. This is tremendous loss to not only the UH Athletics Department but our entire state. Mark will forever be a Rainbow Warrior.
Hawai'i Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi released the following statement:
We are deeply saddened to learn that Congressman Mark Takai has passed. He was a true friend of public education, and he will be greatly missed.
Throughout his time in elected office in state and federal government, he was a staunch advocate for Hawaii's public schools. 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.
On behalf of the Hawaii State Department of Education, I extend my heartfelt condolences and aloha to the Takai family during this difficult time.
Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawai'i Lodging & Tourism Association, issued the following statement:
The members of the Hawai'i Lodging & Tourism Association are very saddened over the untimely passing of Congressman Mark Takai and join in extending our condolences to Sami and the Takai ohana.
We've lost not only a dedicated public servant but a friend to the hospitality industry. Since his election, Mark has been a strong voice for tourism in Washington. He was always open to our concerns and ideas, and was devoted to strengthening the industry. He championed legislation to restore draconian cuts to travel per diem rates in the Department of Defense budget and had a history of advocating for military affiliated meetings and conventions to be held in Hawaii. He met with our HLTA leadership just a few months ago and we were heartened to know at the time that his commitment to doing his very best for Hawai'i was undiminished by his illness.
On a personal note, I knew Mark since he was president of the University of Hawaii's student government and worked closely with him over the years as a City Councilmember, mayor, and in other endeavors. He was always enthusiastic, energetic, and full of ideas. In fact, he suggested to me to start the Mayor's Remembrance Walk, the annual observance of the September 11 attacks in Honolulu.
Our families were close and we shared many precious moments together. Mark will be missed as a representative of the islands, an advocate for our people, a leader, and a dear friend.
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