HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Rep. Mark Takai died Wednesday, following a months-long battle with pancreatic cancer.
The following are statements from Hawaii's leaders and his colleagues:
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.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton
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.
Speaker of the U.S. House Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
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. My prayers are with his wife, Sami, and his children, Matthew and Kaila.
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Paul and I are heartbroken by the passing of Congressman Mark Takai. In his service to America and the people of Hawaii, Congressman Takai embodied our nation's highest ideals. In his fight against cancer, Mark showed the courage and strength that defined the wonderful person he was.
Congressman Takai was a dedicated champion for hard-working families, a proud defender of our nation, and a devoted husband and father. As we mourn the loss of our friend, we draw fresh resolve to find cures. We are deeply grateful to Congressman Takai's family for sharing this great man with us. May it be a comfort to his wife, Sami, his children, and all who loved him that so many share in their grief at this terrible hour.
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.
Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui
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. He will be dearly missed.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii
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 Hawaii and our nation, in the Hawaii State Legislature, in the Hawaii 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 Hawaii's people at the forefront of his actions.
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii
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. 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 Hawaii.
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii
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.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell
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 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 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 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.
Hawaii Senate (collective statement)
Our hearts our heavy today as we mourn the passing of U.S. Rep. K. Mark Takai.
Through his service in the Hawaii 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.
During this difficult time, we send our deepest sympathy and aloha paumako to the Takai family.
Former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii
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.
U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif.
I am so sorry to learn that my friend, Congressman Mark Takai, has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. As both a public servant and a veteran, he served his country and his community nobly. As my colleague on the House Small Business Committee and my neighbor in Washington, I will always remember his humor, his kindness, and his love for his family and Hawaii.
Adm. Harry Harris, commander U.S. Pacific Command
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. 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.
Democratic Party of Hawaii Chair Tim Vandeveer
The Democratic Party of Hawaii is deeply saddened by today's passing of Congressman Mark K. Takai. Congressman Takai's honorable service to our state and country as an officer in the Hawaii National Guard, 20-year member of Hawaii's state House of Representatives, and U.S. Congressman will leave an enduring legacy.
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.
DOE Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi
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.
Hawaii Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald
It is with a heavy heart that we learned of the passing of U.S. Representative Mark Takai.
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.
Representative 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.
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. We worked closely with him as a state lawmaker and as a member of the House of Representatives.