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PASSINGS: Nao Takasugi

Nao Takasugi, former Assemblyman and mayor of Oxnard, dies at 87

November 22, 2009
  • Nao Takasugi was Oxnard city councilman and mayor for 12 years before joining the state Assembly.
Nao Takasugi was Oxnard city councilman and mayor for 12 years before joining… (Alan Hagman / Los Angeles…)

Nao Takasugi

War detainee turned mayor

Nao Takasugi, 87, a former state Assemblyman and Oxnard mayor who was sent to a Japanese internment camp during World War II, died Thursday of complications from a stroke, said his son, Ronald Takasugi.

Takasugi, a Republican, spent six years in the Legislature before he was termed out of office in 1998. He was elected to the Oxnard City Council in 1976 and was mayor from 1982 to 1992 before winning the Assembly seat.

"I don't feel angry anymore," he told the Ventura County Star in 2002. "In spite of all the shortcomings of this country, it's still a great country. Where else can you come from a concentration camp and become the mayor?"

Takasugi, who was born April 5, 1922, in Oxnard, was a student at UCLA when his family was sent to an internment camp.

His family was forced to sell most of its possessions but was able to keep its store, the Asahi Market in Oxnard, because a friend agreed to manage the business while the family was gone, Takasugi told The Times in 2003. He said he earned $16 a month as a Spanish and business tutor at the internment camp and his family ate slices of Spam for a "Sunday treat."

After several months, a Quaker organization offered Takasugi the chance to leave the camp to complete his business administration degree at Temple University in Philadelphia. He graduated from Temple in 1945 and earned a master's in business administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946.

"I find that I am compelled to remember the best -- not the worst -- of that time. To focus not on the grave deprivation of rights which beset us all, but rather on the countless shining moments of virtue that emerged from the shadows of that dark hour," Takasugi said in "The Greatest Generation," the 1998 book by Tom Brokaw.

-- times staff reports

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