Former 37th District state legislator Kip Tokuda passed away on Saturday from a heart attack while fishing on Whidbey Island. He was 66 years old.
Tokuda, a Beacon Hill native and graduate of Cleveland High School, represented the 37th District (Central/Southeast Seattle) from 1994 to 2002, where he was Chair of the House Children and Family Services Committee. A third-generation Japanese-American, Tokuda was a founder of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington and the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation. He also served as the Director of the City of Seattle’s Family and Youth Services Division, and was a member of the board of directors of Prevent Child Abuse America. Before his legislative service, Tokuda was appointed by Governor Booth Gardner as the executive director of the Washington Council for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
In 2012, Tokuda was awarded The Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan to recognize his contribution to strengthening friendly relations between Japan and the United States, and promoting Japanese culture and the welfare of Japanese-Americans.
Recently, Tokuda was appointed to the city’s Community Police Commission by Mayor Mike McGinn. McGinn responded to Tokuda’s passing today:
“Yesterday the city of Seattle lost a true leader, Kip Tokuda. For decades in Seattle and Olympia he was steadfast in his work for racial justice, for the disadvantaged, and for our youth. He was an inspiration and mentor to many in the community, including me. With his cheerful insistence on doing what was right, he pitched in to guide my transition to Mayor, serve as interim Human Services Department director, develop new Seattle Police Department recruitment policies, and serve on our newly formed Community Police Commission. Seattle was enriched by him, and we will miss him deeply. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and the community that loved him.”
Tokuda’s family released a brief statement, thanking the mayor and adding:
“We also want to thank all the people who have called to express their sympathy. We are very saddened by Kip’s sudden passing and we are still absorbing the shock. We appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers.”
Last year, Tokuda made a video in support of R74, the same-sex marriage referendum that passed in the November election, reflecting on his family and their effect on his life: