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Originally published Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 4:08 PM

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Editorial: Kip Tokuda’s gentle, lasting leadership

Former state Rep. Kip Tokuda, died at the age of 66, but his gentle leadership lives on in many others.

Seattle Times Editorial

Memorial service

A public memorial service will be held for Kip Tokuda at 2 p.m. on Sunday at 130 Kane Hall at the University of Washington in Seattle. You’re invited to share your photos and memories at


WHEN voters give the state Legislature a D+ grade, as they did in a recent poll, what the world needs is a little more Kip Tokuda. The leader, mentor and gentleman died Saturday, July 13. He was 66.

Tokuda wasn’t flashy. He was respectful. He wasn’t about the ego. He was about getting things done.

Tokuda was a state representative from the 37th Legislative District from 1994 to 2002. His government work afterward focused on helping the disadvantaged and underrepresented.

But his biggest legacy was people. Tokuda mentored a generation of leaders, including more than a hundred alumni of the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation. The program, which he helped establish, gave participants the tools to become leaders through lessons in public speaking, politics and civic engagement.

“He was like everyone’s favorite older brother,” said KING 5 anchor Lori Matsukawa, whom Tokuda recruited to help create the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington in Seattle. By using his network, he secured $1.2 million in state funding to start the center. For promoting Japan-U.S. relations, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan in 2012.

As a member of the family behind Tokuda Drugs, a Jackson Street institution dating back to before World War II, Tokuda was born into leadership.

Many now stand on his shoulders.

His quiet leadership elevated the community above the person, future generations above the next election cycle and a single meaningful conversation above the din of diatribe. More, please.