Congressman Mark Takai Dies At 49

NBC News reports confirm that Congressman Mark Takai died on Wednesday. Takai lost a long-running battle with pancreatic cancer.

Takai’s office released a statement earlier today on behalf of the family.

“The Takai family thanks the people of Hawaii for their support during this difficult time.”

Takai served as congressman for less than two years. He died less than a year after issuing a public statement about the cancer.

CAPAC chair and fellow Rep. Judy Chu commented to the press on her feelings about Takai.

“Mark was a decorated war veteran and proud member of the Hawaii Army National Guard, but more importantly, he was an outstanding colleague who truly embodied the aloha spirit and worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the people of Hawaii and all Americans,” Chu said. “As a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, he also led notable efforts to benefit the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community, including efforts to reunite Filipino World War II veterans with their loved ones, secure treatment for veterans suffering from service-related radiation exposure, and commemorate the patriotism of Japanese Americans during World War II. I always enjoyed working with Mark and will never forget his strong commitment to bettering our country. [He was] a true patriot, public servant and friend.”

Takai, a Democrat, made his cancer publicly known last year after a tumor was found in his pancreas.

CNN reports that Takai announced his battle with cancer about nine months ago.

“A few days ago, my doctors conducted diagnostic tests in response to certain stomach pains and discomfort that I have been experiencing for several weeks. The tests show that I have a small tumor in the pancreas and I will shortly begin treatment.”

Takai expected to recover from the surgery performed in November, and he received the OK from his doctor to run for re-election. However, in May, Takai announced his decision to not run because the cancer was spreading.

Senator Hirono expressed her sadness over the death of Takai.

“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.”

Nancy Pelosi also spoke about Takai.

“[He was a] dedicated champion for hard-working families. 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.”

Takai rose to his congressional position in 2014. He was a veteran and served as a representative in Hawaii for about 20 years prior to his election to congress. He was grateful for the honor of serving America in this new position.

“I am incredibly humbled and proud to have this opportunity to fight for the people of Hawaii,” Takai said in a statement in 2015 after he was sworn in.

Mark Takai leaves behind his children, Kaila and Matthew, and his wife, Sami. His family is grateful for the support and kindness in their time of grief. They will release details of the congressman’s funeral later, and they ask that respect for their privacy continue.

[AP Photo/Marco Garcia]