Mary Takai passed away peacefully on May 16, 2020 with her family by her side. She was 97 years old and a resident of Pacheco, CA. Devoted wife for sixty years of the late Lt Col Roy T. Takai, she was the beloved mother to five children, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Mary embodied kindness, caring and generosity to everyone who knew her and an enthusiasm for living each day fully.
Born in Sacramento in 1922, she was the youngest daughter of the late Takaatsu and Kiyomi Hosokawa and sister to her late brothers Atsuyoshi, Takayuki, Iemasa, and late sister Sachiko Hosokawa. They all worked in her namesake store, Mary’s Fountain, a popular ice cream and soda shop. Her mother died, and she and a brother were sent to live with their aunt in her father’s native Kochi Prefecture in Shikoku, Japan. Upon returning to Sacramento at age 10, she had to adjust to re-learning English and attending American public schools. When WWII broke out, she was attending Sacramento City College. Along with thousands of other Japanese Americans, she and her father and brother Taka were incarcerated in Tule Lake Internment Camp. After the war they moved back to Sacramento, where in 1946 she married Roy Tetsuo Takai, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army who had enlisted out of Poston AZ Internment Camp and had served in the China-India- Burma theater during the war. Her life as a military wife and mother took the family all over Japan and to cities in North Carolina, Maryland, California, Indiana, and Virginia. She worked for many years as a U.S. Civil Service secretary in Tokyo and at the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, CA.
Mary pursued a variety of interests with energy and joy including sewing, handcrafts, volunteer work, traveling and playing bridge. She and Roy were members of the Japanese Christian Church of Walnut Creek and the JACL.With their friends, they also helped establish the National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS) and the MIS Historic Learning Center, both in S.F. They enjoyed trips to Japan, Europe, and Hawaii and to their cabin in South Lake Tahoe, where Mary knew where all the lucky machines were! She found great pleasure in making Christmas stockings and Easter baskets for her grandchildren, and quilted blankets, knitted hats and scarves that were donated to homeless shelters.
She was the bright light of the family and is survived by her children, Sandra Sugie (Fukuji), Roy S. Takai (Elaine), Debra Takai (John), Neal Takai (Virginia), and Mark Takai (Laura). She leaves behind her adored grandchildren, Naomi Sugie (Dan), Joseph Sugie (Diana), Emily Projansky (Alex), Sara Cox, Sean Takai (Michelle), Alex Takai and Ashlyn Takai as well as great grandchildren Kai and Timo and many nieces and nephews.
Mary made everyone in her presence feel welcomed and will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved her. Donations may be made to the Japanese Christian Church of Walnut Creek,
the NJAHS or MIS Historic Learning Center. A memorial service to be held at a later time.
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