Nichi Bei Foundation founding board member, who helped to establish CSUS Ethnic Studies, dies

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Wayne Hisashi Maeda, a founding faculty member of the California State University, Sacramento Ethnic Studies Department and founding board member of the Nichi Bei Foundation, passed away peacefully at his home in Sacramento on Feb. 27, 2013 after a bout with cancer. He was 65.

Just three days later, on March 2, his widow Lorrie Toohey passed away after a courageous bout with her own cancer. She was 64.

“We are devastated by the dual loss of Wayne Maeda, who documented our community’s history with a strong commitment to historical accuracy, and his beloved wife Lorrie only three days later,” said Kenji G. Taguma, president of the Nichi Bei Foundation and editor-in-chief of the Nichi Bei Weekly. “Personally, Wayne has not only been my mentor for more than two decades, helping to validate my father’s story of wartime resistance and helping to bring that story out to the public, but without him I would probably never have been steered into community service.”

A native of Dayton, Ohio born on Aug. 26, 1947, Maeda retired in 2011 after teaching for four decades at California State University, Sacramento. He also taught Asian American Studies courses at University of California, Davis and Sacramento City College.

Maeda was one of the founding members of the California State University, Sacramento Ethnic Studies Program more than 40 years ago, teaching while still a graduate student and developing the Asian American Studies program.

The pre-eminent historian of the Japanese American experience in the Sacramento region, he curated the landmark 1992 Sacramento History Museum exhibit, “Continuing Traditions: Japanese Americans, Story of a People, 1869-1992,” which included some 150 volunteer contributors.

In 2000 he authored “Changing Dreams and Treasured Memories: A Story of Japanese Americans in the Sacramento Region,” the only historical account of its kind.

Toohey, an adjunct professor in the Sacramento City College History Department since 1998, has been a constant collaborator with Maeda on a number of projects, including the Sacramento History Museum exhibit on Japanese American history in the region, as well as his book on the same subject matter.

Maeda was a current and former board member of numerous organizations, including the CSUS Japanese American Archival Collection Advisory Board, the National Japanese American Historical Society, Jan Ken Po Gakko, Wakamatsu Gold Hill Colony Foundation and the Nichi Bei Foundation.

Since 1995, he was a longtime book reviewer for the Nichi Bei Times and its successor, the Nichi Bei Weekly, writing dozens of book reviews over both publications.
Maeda was predeceased by parents Masao and Ayako Maeda.

He is survived by his daughters Yumiko Maeda (Carly Tan) of San Mateo, Calif. and Sachie Maeda of Torrance, Calif.; and ex-wife Elaine (Matsumoto) Maeda.

Surviving siblings include sister Catherine H. Maeda and brother Ralph S. Maeda.

A joint Memorial Service will be held on Friday, March 8 at 3 p.m., at Sacramento Betsuin Buddhist Church, 2401 Riverside Blvd. Reception following.

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