Robert J. Maeda (1932-2016)
Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund
Former NSRCF board member, Robert J. Maeda passed away on January 30, 2016 at age 83. Bob served as a director from 2003 to 2014. In those 11 years he provided leadership, guidance and support for the Fund, always quietly, humorously, steadily. He was a member of the awards and finance committees, lending advice and expertise. He enjoyed the camaraderie and fellowship of the board and it was mutual. Having retired from the board in 2014, he was already sorely missed.
Bob was born in El Centro, California and in 1942, the family was interned at Poston, Arizona when Bob was just 9 years old. Upon leaving Poston, the family went to Chicago. Bob received his B.A. in Western Art History from the University of Illinois. He then served eight years in the US Army and Army Reserves achieving the rank of Specialist, 4th Class. In 1960, Bob received his M.A. in Asian Art History from the University of Michigan and completed his PhD at Harvard University in Asian Art History in 1969.
In 1967, Bob was hired as the first Asian American professor to teach Asian Art at Brandeis University, spending his entire teaching career there, retiring in 2000. Throughout his career, Bob was the recipient of many fellowships and awards, including a Fulbright fellowship in 1964 that took him to Japan. In 1973 he was a member of the Chinese Archaeology Delegation, the first group of art historians from the US to visit China. A prolific scholar, his research focused on paintings from the Sung Dynasty as well as the Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi.
Bob was a leader in the Massachusetts Japanese American community. In addition to the NSRCF, he served on the board of the New England Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). As president of the board of the regional JACL in the 1980s, Robert was active in that organization’s successful fight for reparations for families interned during WWII.
Dr. Fumio Robert Naka (1923-2013)
Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund
Dr. Fumio Robert Naka, a nationally recognized pioneer of classified stealth technology, passed away at the age of 90, on December 21, 2013 in Concord, Massachusetts. He was born on July 18, 1923 in San Francisco to Kaizo and Shizue Kamegawa Naka. Bob was admired by his colleagues, family and friends for his intelligence, deliberate thoughtfulness, and generosity. Bob was a nationally recognized expert in reconnaissance, surveillance, and communications and command systems, components and technologies, active and passive sensors, countermeasures (including low observables), counter-countermeasures in spacecraft (in particular), aircraft and ground stations.
Bob grew up in Los Angeles, and lived most of his adult life in Boston and Washington DC. He attended UCLA at the age of 16 until his studies were interrupted in 1942 when his family was interned at the Manzanar Relocation Center during WWII. Through the efforts of the Quakers, he gained his release after nine months, to continue his studies, but not on the west coast.
He graduated in 1945 from the University of Missouri Columbia, with a bachelor degree in electrical engineering. He went on to earn a masters degree in the same field at the University of Minnesota in 1947 and earned a doctorate in electron optics at Harvard University in 1951. Bob's career started at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, leading a team that developed the first automatic analog radar signal detection equipment used to warn of bomber attacks. He also worked on the, then secret, U-2 program. Bob joined MITRE in 1959 where he worked with stealth technology designs. He was deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office from 1969-1972. Later he moved to Raytheon in Massachusetts, before becoming the 20th chief scientist of the Air Force in 1975 for three years. He retired from GTE Government Systems in 1988.
He has served on the board of directors of industrial firms and on government advisory and scientific boards, including the NASA Space Program Advisory Council and the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. Bob was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame, elected to the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Explorers Club, a member of Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, and the Druids of the University of Missouri. Bob held many volunteer leadership positions at both the Hancock United Church of Christ in Lexington where he was a member since 1951, and at Emmaus United Church of Christ when he lived in McLean Virginia.
He was also very active with the Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund (NSRCF), a scholarship program for students from underserved Southeast Asian communities. He and his late wife established the Kaizo and Shizue Naka Scholarship, named in honor of his parents and the emphasis they always placed on education and giving back. He often said "I remember my mother telling me that you can't just take from society, you have to give something back. She said, 'You have to give back twice as much, because someone won't give anything.' " He was a Board member of the NSRCF for 15 years and served as Chair of the Finance Committee. He was also active in the Massachusetts Life Care Residents Association, serving as president for many years.
Bob enjoyed spending time with family and friends. He also enjoyed travel, especially cruises and Caribbean locations. Bob was an avid patron of theater and symphony and liked visiting museums and historic sites. Bob was preceded in death by his wife and college sweetheart, Patricia Neilon Naka. He is survived by his son David (Betsy) of Baltimore, his daughter Holly of Farmington, CT, his son Michael (Karen) of Littleton, MA, his son Peter (Jean) of Fairfax, VA, and his grandchildren Alex, Isabelle, Adalyn, Zhenya, Elizabeth, Jeremy, Matthew, Naomi and Marie. Contributions in his memory can be made to the Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund (19 Scenic Drive, Portland, CT 0648) or online at www.nsrcfund.org. To share a memory or offer a condolence visit, Concord Funeral Home, Concord, MA (978) 369-3388.
Adapted from The Boston Globe on Jan. 12, 2014
Lafayette Noda (1916-2013)
Founding Board Member
Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund
There is a spirit in this world that knows only goodness. And that spirit beckons to each of us. (L.N., June 2002)
Lafayatte Noda died the evening of February 9, 2013, at Kendal at Hanover at the age of 96. He lived a full and simple life, influencing many by his thoughtfulness, gentleness, and belief in the fundamental goodness of all people.
Lafayette was born in the Yamato Colony, a small Japanese American community in the San Joaquin Valley of California. He was one of nine chldren in an immigrant family, struggling long hours on poor land. Food was simple and protein was sometimes scarce - a piece of bread with butter and sugar was considered a treat. There were none of the luxuries Lafayette was later able to provide for his family.
Lafayette graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1939, majoring in chemistry and minoring in fruit products. Because of intense anti-Japanese prejudice, he was unable to find work after he graduated. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when the U.S. government ordered the imprisonment of all West Coast Japanese and their American-born children, Lafayette was ordered to report to the Santa Anita Race Track, an "assembly center." He was housed with other single men in horse stalls that were still smeared with manure. Later he was sent to Heart Mountain in Wyoming and then to Amache in Colorado, where he joined the rest of his family.
In 1943, Lafayette left Amache and moved to Pendle Hill, a Quaker study center in Pennsylvania, where he completed a master's thesis he'd begun at UCLA. He returned to California in 1945 and earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Stanford University.
Lafayette married Mayme Kishi (also born and raised in the Yamato Colony) in 1947 and shortly after, joined the Palo Alto Friends Meeting (Quaker). Kesaya ("Elizabeth Grace") was born in Palo Alto in 1950. After receiving his doctorate that same year, Lafayette moved his family East - in 1951, to Madison, Wisconsin (where David was born), for a post-doctoral position at the Enzyme Institute, in 1956 to Bethesda, Maryland, for work at the Naval Medical Research Institute, and in 1957 to Hanover and the Biochemistry Department of the Medical School at Dartmouth. Lafayette was promoted to full professor and in 1960 was named chair of the Biochemistry Department. When the Guggenheim Foundation awarded him a fellowship in Molecular and Cellular Biology in 1968, he and his family spent a year in Japan. He retired from Dartmouth in 1981 but continued to collaborate with colleagues in Germany for many years afterward.
One would be hard pressed to find someone who worked harder than Lafayette. He spent his life researching adenylate kinase, an enzyme essential for the generation of energy within cells and important in the diagnosis of heart attacks. Many nights, he tended his experiments at the laboratory, sleeping on the concrete floor beside his amino acid analyzer. Weekends, he worked on the land around the old colonial house in Meriden, New Hampshire, where the family moved in 1959. As he approached retirement, he and Mayme planted Christmas trees and blueberries for a pick-your-own farm operation.
Lafayette was a firm believer in efficiency -- wasted motion, time. or effort were to be avoided at all costs. He worked hard in the fields, frequently in silence because he was not one to squander precious energy on idle conversation. In all that he did, he used his brain. A small man, he could maneuver an oil drum full of diesel fuel from a truck bed to a storage shed without braking a sweat, and he could fix almost anything. Little was discarded in the Noda household, be it a frying pan, stove, or mower.
Lafayette became Quaker when he was in his twenties, and Quaker values guided his life, and Mayme's, for the next 70 years. He and Mayme were committed to non-violence and social activism. Because of their belief in the sanctity of all lives, they opposed the Viet Nam War, objected to the military draft, and resisted the prejudice directed at Arab Americans following the taking of hostages in Iran. Together they helped found the Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund, which provides scholarship support to young students of Southeast Asian heritage. The fund was established to commemorate the assistance the Quakers and others offered to young Japanese Americans during the war, enabling them to leave the prison camps for colleges and universities throughout the United States.
Lafayette believed in the equality and goodness of all people and tenaciously held the hope that if everyone tried to make it so, the world could be a better place. He believed in the importance of generosity and kindness, the imperative to work for peace, and the need to give to those less fortunate. A scientist to the end, he was committed to the facts as he saw them and to the truth as he experienced it. His reseaarch deepened his sense of wonder in the miracles of the world. Lying beneath an apple tree and looking straight up through the branches to the sky during his morning break from work one day, he marveled, "Look at those leaves. Photosynthesizing away!"
Age and Alzheimers inevitably limited Lafayette's abilities, but with each loss, he valiantly and brilliantly found means to compensate. When he could no longer work on the farm or live on his own, he made his way to acceptance. In his final years, he at last permitted himself to rest. A quiet man for most of his life, he changed, greeting people and circumstances with a huge smile, open arms, and peals of loud, exuberant laughter.
Lafayette is survived by Kesaya and her husband Chris Dye, residents of Meriden. David and his wife, Kay Nishiyama, as well as his siblings and their families—Patrick Noda, Grant Noda, Mary Kamiya, and Lois Noda. The family is deeply grateful to the staff at Kendal, who cared for Lafayette with unfailing tenderness and skill.
If friends wish to make a gift, Lafayette would have been grateful for support offered to: The NSRCF (19 Scenic Drive, Portland, CT 06480), New Hampshire American Friends Service Committee (4 Park Street, Suite 209, Concord, NH 03301), or the Pickett Fund for staff (Kendal at Hanover, 80 Lyme Road, Hanover, NH 03770).