Hawaiian Congressman Mark Takai has died at the age of 49, his chief of staff confirmed on July 20.
“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,” said the congressman’s office in a statement.
Takai, who won his seat in the Hawaii State House of Representatives at the age of 27, had announced that he was not seeking re-election as U.S. congressman in May after learning that his pancreatic cancer had spread. He had been diagnosed last year.
“I had envisioned a long career in the U.S. House of Representatives, building up the seniority and influence that were key to Senator Inouye’s ability to deliver for Hawaii. But as often happens, we find ourselves on a different journey than what we had planned,” he said in a post on Facebook.
“When I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, my family and I resolved to fight it head-on and with deep personal faith. Today, we find ourselves at a crossroads. I had truly hoped to aggressively fight this cancer while seeking re-election, but I recently learned that my cancer has spread,” said Takai.
The congressman was also a 17-year member of the Hawaii Army National Guard, holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was deployed to the Middle East as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, his office’s website says.
“In his service to America and the people of Hawaii, Congressman Takai embodied our nation’s highest ideals,” said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in a statement.
“In his fight against cancer, Mark showed the courage and strength that defined the wonderful person he was,” she added.
U.S. officials shared their condolences on social media:
— NGAUS (@NGAUS1878) July 20, 2016
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) July 20, 2016
Heartbroken as we say our final aloha to my friend, colleague & fellow soldier Mark Takai. My prayers are with Sami & his family -TG
— Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiPress) July 20, 2016
Heartbroken to hear of @RepMarkTakai‘s passing. In his 20 yrs in public service he’s made the people of Hawaii & this country proud.
— Rep. Norma Torres (@NormaJTorres) July 20, 2016
Takai, who was born and raised on the Hawaiian island Oahu, is survived by his wife Sami and his two children, Matthew and Kaila.