MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Years before he made his mark in politics, Mark Takai made his mark at the University of Hawaii.
He was a champion swimmer, student government president, and the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, Ka Leo O Hawaii.
And he never forgot where he came from.
"He's been supportive, the last year, on a number of our initiatives, and throughout really the past few decades," said UH-Manoa Athletics Director David Matlin, who has know Takai for 20 years.
Takai died Wednesday at his home. He was 49.
As a student at UH, the Hawaii Democratic Congressman was a letter winner in swimming from 1985 to 1989, and a member of the WAC champion 4-by-100 medley relay team.
He was also active elsewhere on campus.
He served as editor-in-chief of Ka Leo from 1990-91, and was student government president in 1989.
"During his term (at Ka Leo), there was especially controversial stories that maybe another editor might have shied away from, but he just dived in and continued to cover it throughout the entire year," said Jay Hartwell, UH-Manoa's student media advisor.
And even as recently as a few months ago, he'd dropped by campus to speak to student leaders and share his own legislative priorities.
"He has definitely been very active this past couple of months, he's come to some of our ASUH (Associated Students of the University of Hawaii) events," said Roxie-Anne Kamoshida, student body president.
In a statement, UH President David Lassner said everyone associated with the institution will remember Takai "as not only a dedicated public servant and family man, but also as a proud and highly engaged UH Manoa graduate."